Poetry is whatever prose isn't.


Dr. Peter C. Montgomery
Dept. of English
Camosun College
3100 Foul Bay Rd.
Victoria, BC CANADA V8P 5J2
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-----Original Message-----
From: Ken Armstrong [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Wednesday, May 14, 2003 2:24 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: An amateur Eliot enthusiast's wild musing

At 05:34 AM 5/14/2003 -0700, you wrote:
>Dear Nancy,
>I do agree that poetry cannot be limited by
>'theories'; I may only like to add that poetry cannot
>be 'interpreted' by theories either.

    Well said, Vishvesh.

>My reply was to that question if poetry was an aid to
>have an outlook towards life.  It sounded like a
>management concept to me and so I made that reply.  I
>believe that poetry has its own context, its own
>perspective and we only put too much of ourselves
>distorting what it essentially is, when we look at it
>from so many related details, that have a kind of
>historic interest alone.   Poetry has been read as a
>cultural activity and that explains it for me.

    An enthusiastic amen to all of the above, sans the last sentence.
"Cultural activity" is so large, what does it not refer to? Now, to ask
that question is not to say that poetry is not a cultural activity, but I
wonder whether, when we are asking what it is essentially, we should try to
get beyond "it has its own context, its own perspective"? I.e. I don't
think we can get beyond that, though we may try to find other ways to say
it, and we may come to recognizing some of what poetry is and isn't along
the way.  While poetry must be a part of the culture from which it springs,
I think it is in the nature of it to exceed that culture. The view in
Eliot's poetry is a metaphysical/artistic one; which is not to say it is a
systematic metaphysics; rather that is free of, or the way to freedom from,
fixed and formulated views.

  Ken Armstrong