I do not understand why the addition of new difficulty (assuming that were true) would be a valid reason for ignoring relevant material. ??
I also do not understand the simple assumption that a poem "has universal appeal." In fact, poems do not and never have. Samuel Johnson did not approve of the Metaphysicals whom Eliot touted: they did not really enter the canon until Eliot took them up. Many poets were simply overlooked or not printed for centuries, not because they were not good but because they did not fit certain assumptions. George Bernard Shaw (no fool even if you disagree) did not even like Shakespeare.
This is, unfortunately, circular reasoning that offers its own premises as conclusions.
>>> Tom Gray <[log in to unmask]> 11/1/2006 11:08 PM >>>
From the review of “The End of the Poem: Oxford
Lectures” by Paul Muldoon in the Oct 21st issue of
“The Economist” p.p. 95-96
A major thrust of Mr. Muldoon’s argument is that a
poem is not a self-sufficient construct made of words
that can stand alone without any knowledge of the
biography of the author. Biographical information can
be enormously informative, he says, enlightening the
readers to the poet’s real preoccupations.
Poems are often difficult to understand but Mr.
Muldoon’s method, for all his delightfully readable
questings, seems to add hurdles rather than eliminate
them. To try to argue that the real meaning of a poem
can be discovered only if the reader brings to bear
upon it abstruse, quasi-biographical “evidence”, and
tiny washed-up bits of etymological detritus, makes
the reading and understanding of poetry into an
elitist sport-cum-parlour game, undermining the notion
that poetry has universal appeal
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