Reading Poetry Part II

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As a coda to what is below:

The surest way to kill poetry and its joy is to do as your teachers taught you and search for THE meaning--as though there were only one. One of the great surprises of poetry is its suppleness--the chameleon-like quality it can possess to say any number of things with the same words. Look at the comments on some of the poems from earlier this week and see the diverging visions of what is said. Blake is considerably instructive, but also the comments on my own unpolished work.

Harold Bloom tells us that great literature "reads us" as much as we read it. The meaning of a poem is a conjuction of who you are and what the poem can say. A great poem can speak beyond the strict bounds of its metaphor to the heart of the individual encountering it. When we read Blake, or Keats, or Quarles, we hear the poet, but we also hear the echoes of our own hearts and beings.

And perhaps that is another reason why many are frightened of poetry--sometimes they may not care for what they hear.

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I remember hearing that all art involves 2 people: the artist and the viewer. The artist sets forth her vision, and the viewer contributes his own worldview as he observes the art. No, observes is the wrong word -- it's too passive, there was a more active one.

But I enjoyed learning this because it gave me the confidence to form and express my own opinions about "great works" of literature. It helped me understand why I might hate something that someone else considers a work of art, and essentially gave me the permission to do so. It also explains why one can have a different appreciation for different works of art at different stages of one's life. (My mother swears that no one under 40 really *gets* Jane Austen).




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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on April 27, 2005 7:31 AM.

A Mystical Poem and Reading Poetry--Part I was the previous entry in this blog.

Shakespeare CL is the next entry in this blog.

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