We mean real silence, a breakdown and cessation of language – language being the paradigm of our intelligent presence in the material world. We mean the silence which signifies direct perception with no interposing sense-mechanics: the mystic’s confrontation with God, the naturalist’s moment of dissolution in universal force. At the other end of the scale, we know that a poet faced with the degradation of language, its drift toward meaninglessness in the lying utterances of politics and commerce or in the simple erosive monotone of mass culture, may suffer, in his or her dismay, a breakdown or dislocation of poetic language itself, a stoppage, and a consequent paralysis of imagination, resulting in silence – again real silence, the silence of defeat, of nihilism. These are the extremes, absolute silences, beyond sensuousness, God-bestowed or devil-inspired; they are the bounds of poetry. Indeed poetry is bounded by silence on all sides, is almost defined by silence.
Hayden Carruth, “Fallacies of Silence,” Selected Essays & Reviews