PM: If the epigraph afects the reading of the poem,
then as far as I'm concerned it INFECTS the reading,
in such a way that the poem cannot be read outside
that context. Just as, if one reads the INFERNO,
it is impossible not to be influenced by Prufrock
in that passage, and so to see a dimension of Dante's
work that to some extent transcends its own era.
I never said I was reading the poem without consideration for the epigraph.
Quite the contrary; it is just that I see the epigraph in a particular,
allusive and metaphorical, relation to the poem it prefaces. I also agree
with the idea that the allusion is retrospective; i.e., it alters one's
comprehension of the source just as the epigraph affects (I still fail to
understand your use of the word 'infect'; surely I can become 'infected' by
a virus and yet maintain my autonomy from that virus; infections also clear
up, whereas epigraphs do not) the poem. That is because the attachment of an
epigraph is a critical act.