“A famous sonnet by William Wordsworth begins, 'Nuns fret not at their convent's narrow room; / And hermits are contented with their cells; / and students with their pensive citadels.' Wordsworth's point is that what nuns, hermits, and students do is facilitated rather than hindered by the confines of the formal structures they inhabit; because those structures constrain freedom (they remove, says Wordsworth, 'the weight of too much liberty'), they enable movements in a defined space. If the moves you can perform are prescribed and limited—if, for example, every line in your poem must have ten syllables and rhyme according to a predetermined pattern—each move can carry a precise significance. If, on the other hand, there are an infinite number of moves to perform, the significance of any one of them may be difficult to discern. (This is one of the insights of information theory.) That is why Wordsworth reports himself happy 'to be bound / Within the Sonnet's scanty plot of ground.' It is a scanty plot because it is bounded, and because it is bounded, it can be the generator of boundless meanings. This, then, is my theology: You shall tie yourself to forms and the forms shall set you free.”
About the author
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Kelly Peacock is an accomplished poet and social media expert based in Brooklyn, New York. Kelly has a Bachelor's degree in creative writing from Farieligh Dickinson University and has contributed to many literary and cultural publications. Kelly assists on a wide variety of quote inputting and social media functions for Quote Catalog. Visit her personal website here.
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