Measures of density

In physics, density=mass/volume. I used to believe that in poetry, density=content/word_length. I used to prune a poem within an inch of its life at the expense of clarity, "never using two words if one would almost do". Now I tend to believe that density=content/reader_time. If one version takes longer to read than another, its impact is spread over a longer time-span and is thus a less dense experience. Halving the number of words is no use if the reader has to read a piece 3 times instead of once.


Updated January 2006
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Tim Love