Stephen Dunn on Fitting Surprise

23 06 2015


Inevitable, but unforeseen.

Surprising, yet apt.

Startling and true.

Novel and appropriate.

These are some of the ways that the vital creative quality of (what I have come to call) “fitting surprise” has been described.  It’s a weirdly magical quality, one that a number of poets, writers, and artists agree is a necessary ingredient of important art.

In the latest issue of Poetry, poet Stephen Dunn reflects on and plays with the idea of fitting surprise.  His poem “Always Something More Beautiful” attempts to both describe and enact fitting surprise, and even goes so far as to suggest that fitting surprise is a significant part of what might be considered “Beautiful.”

Check out the poem, read up on fitting surprise, and let me know what you think–

Wordsworth, Theorizing the Volta

2 06 2015

January 26th.–I wish I could here write down all that Wordsworth has said about the Sonnet lately, or record here the fine fourteen lines of Milton’s ” Paradise Lost,” which he says are a perfect sonnet without rhyme, and essentially one in unity of thought. Wordsworth does not approve of uniformly closing the second quatrain with a full stop, and of giving a turn to the thought in the terzines. This is the Italian mode; Milton lets the thought run over. He has used both forms indifferently. I prefer the Italian form. Wordsworth does not approve of closing the sonnet with a couplet, and he holds it to be absolutely a vice to have a sharp turning at the end with an epigrammatic point. He does not, therefore, quite approve of the termination of Cowper’s ” Sonnet to Romney,”–

” Nor couldst thou sorrow see

While I was Hayley’s guest and sat to thee.”

–Henry Crabb Robinson, Diary, Reminiscences, and Correspondence of Henry Crabb Robinson (223).