‘The poem acquires independence…’

‘There is a process called annealment, the heating to a high temperature and slow cooling of glass or metal, to toughen them. Making a poem feels like that, writing as yourself and reading it back as someone else. Distance, perspective, irony, derision (terribly important!), all come into the picture. The poem acquires independence, the poet, in Montale’s comparison, is like the props man who’s stumbled upon it, “unaware that he’s / the author”.’

– Michael Hoffman, “I happen to believe” (2000)

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