"Nowadays when the nature of poetry has become so uncertain that everyone is trying to define it, definitions usually begin: 'Poetry is words which, or language which, or discourse which,' and so forth. As a matter of fact, it is nothing of the kind. Just as we should not define a chair as wood which has such and such characteristics - for a chair is not a kind of wood but a kind of furniture - so we ought not to define poetry as a kind of language. The words are of the utmost importance; if they are not the right words or if we do not grasp them, we do not grasp the poem. In another sense, they are the least important element in the poem, for they do not determine the character of anything else in the poem; on the contrary, they are determined by everything else. They are the only things we see or hear; yet they are governed by imperceptible things which are inferred from them. And when we are moved by poetry, we are not moved by the words, except in so far as sound and rhythm move us; we are moved by the things that the words stand for."
- Elder Olson, from "An Outline of Poetic Theory", first published in 1949
Sounds a little paradoxical, huh? Sounds a little against the grain of the last 50 yrs? More later, hopefully.