In this country, there are 2 kinds of literature : official and unofficial. The first is trash; the second, stolen air. - O. Mandelstam [rough quote from memory]
I like J.H.'s supra-metaphors for the plumbline metaphor. A plumbline is necessarily "ponderous" - so, for the sake of a superior balance, he offers airy sparks.
Again, I think we will discover that the reply to tedium, in this arcane pursuit, somehow involves the relation between the "golden mean" and the "conjunction of opposites". John Donne knew how to play that tune (cf. "metaphysical wit"). Sparks will fly.
This cul-de-sac of style & substance, realism & artifice, has caught many a lumbering critic in its maw. I hope I haven't already fallen into it.
I'm thinking of that chance encounter on the train to Florida, in the 1930s, between the 2 famous poets, Frost & Stevens. Stevens, with a smile, says - "The trouble with you, Robert, is you write on subjects." To which the canny old pseudo-Yankee replied : "Your trouble, Stevens, is you write bric-a-brac." [rough quote from memory, again]
I'd like to see this done as a video on YouTube : it could be the iconic moment of the Plumbline School.
& I'm really looking forward, along with a lot of other poets & readers, to this new Norton anthology, about to appear (American Hybrid). I think all the exempla of official poetry in there will give us something to talk about (along these plumbline lines). I'm already wondering (from here on my superior-dilettante perch) to what extent these hybrids will exhibit natural healthy fruit & scent (true grafting processes), or merely the ambitious stylistic compromises (ie., pretentious mish-mash) of literary politicians.
We can't escape this paradox : poetry is both necessary and free. Frost and Stevens. Art and experience... the Russians have a more elegant couplet - how does it really go, J.H.? - something like byt and byet - "beauty" and "the daily grind". It seems that no matter where you fall, as a poet, on the scale of values - between "realism" and "play" - fact and dream - if it's going to be remembered, it has to have that spark - Eliot's thought-experiment with a platinum wire - the evidence of a supra-rational conjunction (Eureka!)...