Whenever I am writing a poem, I am still always tempted to add a line or two encapsulating what I am trying to say.
This is the amateur that still resides in me; the fear that someone will read a piece of mine and say "it sounds nice, it's evocative, but what does it mean?" I constantly need to remind myself that a certain responsibility resides in the reader. I believe the true treasure of reading any great work of literature is explicating the implicit.
This is why I always keep this quote by Ezra Pound close by:
The artist seeks out the luminous detail and presents it. He does not comment.
But how can you achieve saying something without actually saying it? Ezra Pound seems to be suggesting in this quote in being faithful to the image. But the keyword in this quote is "luminous detail." How do you make a detail luminous? The first and most powerful tool is association through metaphor and simile.
I am going to focus solely on metaphor, but a simile can be just as powerful. The underlying mechanics of metaphor are sometimes ignored, and thus their true power of it are forgotten. Here is an example of powerful use of metaphor, again by Ezra Pound:
the apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
What exactly is going on here? A formula is being used.
Two completely distinct images are being connected through metaphor but it is not a simple A = B equation. Pound is taking only certain properties from the image of "black bough" and associating them to faces in a crowd. This linking is
actually making properties more "luminous" than others.
Furthermore, the two clauses aren't saying much of anything by themselves. They are just two images. Pound leaves the reader to imagine each image and build a composite of the two. Suddenly these faces are not just ghost-like images passing by; they now share some attributes of the second image: they are bleak, burdened by something, and residing somewhere that is even bleaker.
Of course this is just my interpretation, but that is what makes metaphor so powerful and dialectic.