Our example was "Winter Ocean" by John Updike, which goes like this:
of male whales, maker of worn wood, shrub-
ruster, sky-mocker, rave!
portly pusher of waves, wind-slave.
He doesn't try to say what he thinks a "winter ocean" means or symbolizes or anything. He just digs and digs to the heart of the thing itself, and puts out there what he discovers it actually IS in incredibly interesting words. Scud-thumper. How awesome is that?
Its when we try to be all poetical and expound on some deep meaning that we totally miss the meaning, and get cheesy and cliche and vague. To me this is a good rule to keep in mind from the outset. It can reign in the dumb and keep us on the effective, concrete path. What are your thoughts? Do you think this rule can help?