The old habit got on me unawares ! Nancy, henceforth
it will be...
I don’t have an answer for your question as to whether
I had alone acquired the “special” ability of
identifying the ‘essential’ experience. But I believe
it is a necessary element in understanding and judging
poetry and that the great critics can facilitate
towards such a maturity, if I may call it so. Call it
snobbery if you want to, for you are ‘entitled’ to
your ‘opinion’. But don’t say that I am alone in it.
For, it would only amount to saying something as
absurd as Eliot is a madman and a pervert and so there
is no need to read and accept what he has said !
‘If you will not discuss the poetry, please do not
discuss me as if you were in a position to judge my
ability to read.’
I pick on ‘you’ since you have been hurling a lot of
what seems to me as abuse on a great poet. My
question remains this : how can I consider such
accusations valid if I see something entirely
unconvincing to me as to the person who has been
making it. You say that I continue to state that you
look at a poem as an ‘idea’. What can I infer when
you make further and further statements as:
“The Elizabethans did, indeed, represent a great deal
of perversity. They also engaged in burning people
alive, drawing and quartering, political murder,
chopping off the heads of wives--you know--not nice.”
How can I discuss poetry in your lines if you by your
own words seem to me to be associating with such
issues that are not primary to the ‘poem’? As a crude
analogy, I am reminded of someone making a note
expressing his wonder as to how a poet as Keats would
never have bothered to have alluded to any social
criticism in a troubled time, when a contemporary as
Shelley was brimming with fire and so caustic against
the establishment. See, there is a connection here,
willy-nilly you accept it or not.
I did try to discuss the poetry by drawing an analogy
to ‘The Changeling’, but since I do not have the text,
I cannot do it now. I can see Eliot drawing his
inspiration in this poem from Middleton whom he
admired so much. If I had his essay on Middleton and
the text of ‘The Changeling’ I would be gladly ready
to do a sort of exercise here, which I am sure would
be fruitful for me, and surely not for an argument's
--- Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Dear Vishvesh,
> Please do not call me "Ms. Nancy." I do not call
> you "Mr. Vishvesh."
> And please stop repeating that I am only interested
> in a poem as "idea."
> This is not true, as I keep pointing out, yet you
> continue to state it
> as if it were a fact.
> Also, One "may" see anything one wants in a poem
> (it's not illegal or
> immoral), but that does not mean it is in the poem.
> Am I to assume that
> YOU, for example, have acquired this ability to
> "identify the essential
> experience that makes it into a unique
> expression"--whatever that
> is--but I have not, despite decades of reading and
> teaching it? How did
> you achieve this, and how are we to know that you
> have it but others do
> And if you have, why are we all wasting time in
> discussion on this list?
> Why do you not simply send us all the truths of
> "essential experience"
> and we can close down?
> I am hardly alone in finding this poem
> perverse--read almost any
> discussion of it. And I offer again to define
> "perverse" if you like
> and connect it to self-flagellation in a sexual
> situation, loving
> corpses, and strangling lovers. It is not a long
> stretch. The
> Elizabethans did, indeed, represent a great deal of
> perversity. They
> also engaged in burning people alive, drawing and
> quartering, political
> murder, chopping off the heads of wives--you
> know--not nice.
> If you will not discuss the poetry, please do not
> discuss me as if you
> were in a position to judge my ability to read.
> And my name is Nancy.
> >>> [log in to unmask] 04/03/05 11:41 AM >>>
> One may see anything one wants to when one reads a
> poem, for a poem is a complex organization of
> experiences. But what one acquires in one's constant
> reading of poetry is to identify the essential
> experience that makes it into a unique expression.
> I wasn't surprised that Ms.Nancy would find this
> 'perverse', for I have observed that she seems to be
> more interested in what a poem could mean as an
> than as an 'experience'. But I was wondering if
> else would make a reply before I made one and I am
> glad Debra did, and a good one at that. If one
> considered this work perverse most of Elizabethan
> poetry may itself become perverse, for this work
> strong influence of Elizabethan poetry (I am struck
> the parallels to 'The Changeling', particularly as
> associated with the character of DeFlores. I don't
> have the text to quote any lines). I was even
> wondering why Eliot didn't compose it as a sonnet
> it has all the qualities that make the sonnets of
> Shakespeare : the precision, the feeling, and the
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