Jacques Roubaud, p.1
THAT POETRY SAYS NOTHING, I
You say that poetry says nothing.”
“You’re right. That proposition is absurd. The opposite is surely true.”
“Poetry does say something. It’s not true that poetry says nothing, so poetry does say something. Right?”
“So what does poetry say? What is it that poetry says?”
“Well what? The soul? The world? You? Me? Truth? What really happened in the Jardin du Luxembourg when the sparrow finished its dust bath? What is it? Is it everything?”
“It is whatever you want; it depends.”
“Then why not say that poetry says everything?”
“Everything might be a little too much. Poetry can’t say everything; it can’t say universal gravitation.”
“Why not? If poetry doesn’t say nothing, if poetry does in fact say something, why can’t it say everything? Where do you draw the line?”
“One poem says this, another poem says that, and all those this’s and that’s, that’s what poetry says?
“But in that case you might just as well say that poetry says nothing. Because it’s impossible to say just what all those this’s and that’s are that poetry says if it only says that this one poem says and that that another poem says et cetera.
“I’ll grant you that the indefinite ennumeration of things that poems say is not a very satisfying way of saying what poetry says; but to conclude from that that it says nothing is going a little too far.”
“And how do you go a little too far?”
“You turn the page.”