Having also tried various neat distinctions which inevitably crumble in the face of precise examples that don’t fit, I liked Thoreau’s conclusion that a ‘beautiful fact’ can’t easily be excluded from a notebook on poetry.
For similar overlaps between fact (science) and poetry (art), see the Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály.
‘I have a commonplace-book for facts and another for poetry, but I find it difficult always to preserve the vague distinction I had in my mind, for the most interesting and beautiful facts are so much the more poetry and that is their success.’ (18 February 1852)
Source: Henry David Thoreau,The Journal 1837-1861, Damion Searls (ed.), preface by John R. Stilgoe (New York: New York Review Books, 2009), p. 114
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