Breaking Off, with an example by Archilochus

The between space of poetics —- between the all-too-human and the mystery of creative being—- is broken off at both ends. Special attention is given by poets to beginnings (in the given particulars) and endings (the release of the subject into the agapeic space of art). The middle is composed of transitions, the so-called white spaces or gaps between syntactic units, stanzas, and other pieces of the dynamic whole which is ultimately an opening to the ‘more’ beyond the aesthetic whole, the ultimate source of its shimmering appearance.

Archilochus (mid-seventh century BC)


from The Oxford Book of Classical Verse edd. Poole and Maule (1995)

Author: Tom D'Evelyn

Tom D'Evelyn is a private editor and writing tutor in Cranston RI and, thanks to the web, across the US and in the UK. He can be reached at D'Evelyn has a PhD in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley. Before retiring he held positions at The Christian Science Monitor, Harvard University Press, Boston University and Brown University. He ran a literary agency for ten years, publishing books by Leonard Nathan and Arthur Quinn, among others. Before moving to Portland OR he was managing editor at Single Island Press, Portsmouth NH. He blogs at and other sites.

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