• medium:
  • essay

“You ask me, most politely, to do something I disapprove—that is, to pluck from Victor Hugo’s writings some fragment that seems to me of especial excellence. I do not at all like this process of detaching from a work the purest or happiest portion of it. Is this not treating poems as children treat cakes—picking out the almonds to crunch and giving the rest to the dog?”

“Victor Hugo’s Finest Stanza: Reply to an Inquiry,” in The Art of Poetry (New York: Pantheon Books, 1958), 260.
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