What does cookie-cut mean here? What is he trying to say?

I think you can either look for forms, you can do specific reading for them, or the forms can be demanded by what you want to say. And when the material in poetry seems under almost unbearable pressure you wonder whether the form hasn’t cookie-cut what the poet wanted to say. But you chose the couplet, didn’t you, and some of your freest passages are in couplets.

From "Robert Lowell, The Art of Poetry No. 3"

  • Giving sources sometimes help getting answers. From an interview of the American poet Robert Lowell.
    – None
    Commented Mar 25, 2017 at 10:40
  • @Laure thanks, but I was reading this actually.and didn't get this part of the interview
    – user48966
    Commented Mar 25, 2017 at 10:45
  • cookie-cut in this case might mean that couplets have predetermined (eg. idiomatic) understandings. Quite the ironic question. It means the intended meaning would be counterintuitive to most house-hold readers.
    – Hector von
    Commented Mar 25, 2017 at 13:38
  • 1
    A similar word is cookie-cutter, adjective definitions 1 or 2. Might work in your context.
    – user3169
    Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 0:21
  • 1
    I think what Laure was trying to say is that you should add where you found this text to the question to help the folks trying to answer it. I went ahead and edited it in for you. See So, you found a sentence or phrase… (Why you should cite your source) for more explanation.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 11:29

1 Answer 1


A cookie cutter imposes a specific form on the nebulas mass of dough.

A poet has innumerable ways of conveying their message. However, there are common forms that are familiar and one might fit their message to a convenient, recognizable form. However, this poet chose to use couplets. Couplets allow more freedom of expression; allow her/him to avoid "falling into" the use of overused, trite, or common forms of expressing a given idea or message.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .