The art of literature consists exactly in this passage from the Eye to the Voice. From the wealth of nature to that thin shadow of words, that gramophone. The Readers are the people who see things and want them expressed. The author is the Voice, or the conjuror who does tricks with that curious rope of letters, which is quite different from real passion and sight.
The prose writer drags meaning along with the rope. The poet makes it stand on end and hit you.
—T.E. Hulme, ‘Notes on Language & Style’
One wonders, though, how the ‘thin shadow of words’ became a ‘gramophone’ in the duration of one word, two spaces, and a comma. Although he set up the image, a bit, in the preceding sentence, he does nothing to support it, so it does not add much to the sense of his argument. Hulme being an Imagist, I suppose the meaning should lag, as thunder does, behind the lightning-flash of images; yet allow me to be momentarily catholic in my taste—I thought it simply sloppy.
Which just goes to show how easy it is to miss the point of the excerpt, which is, of course, the wonderful image of the ropes.