"Our dried voices, when
   We whisper together
   Are quiet and meaningless
   As wind in dry grass
   Or rats' feet over broken glass
   In our dry cellar

   Shape without form, shade without colour,
   Paralysed force, gesture without motion;"

and words without meaning.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Carrol Cox" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Saturday, August 04, 2007 9:23 AM
Subject: Re: Water in TWL--why?

> Richard Seddon wrote:
> >
> >
> > Poetry for both of these very good poets was simply much much more than
> > literal meaning of words strung together in lines and strophes.
> You don't mean this -- that is, you can't believe that for unspecified
> "other" poets, poetry was simply the "literal meaning of words strung
> together in lines and strophes."
> The problem is that it is both a tautology AND false. A tautology, and a
> trivial one, because no one in the history of literature has ever
> thought that poetry was only "the literal et cetera"; false because
> whatever meaning poetry has (or whatever effect it might have) can only
> come from such a "literal meaning etc..." And finally, it is not only
> both false and a truism but also incoherent, because the phrase "literal
> meaning" is itself something of a blank check. What does literal meaning
> mean?
> April is the cruelest month . . .
> Does not "April" mean a month of the year, and is that not what the line
> says, that April is a month? And if one cannot construe this literal
> meaning can one then read the poem at all?
> "Cruelest" the most cruel of all 12 months. How literally are we to take
> the superlative ending. Are we to think, for example, of August as "less
> cruel" than April but more cruel than February? What _is_ the "literal
> meaning" of the line -- and is it possible to find any non-literal
> meaning before we have some sense of a literal meaning. But can "cruel"
> have a literal meaning applied to a month? What sort of entities can
> "cruel" apply to? Wimsatt notes that an evening and an owl can both be
> cold, but cold in different ways, hence the importance of elegant
> vatiation in "St. Agnes eve, ah bitter chill it was, the owl for all its
> feathers was a-cold," though (except for the exigencies of rhyme) it
> would have done just as well to have the evening a-cold and the owl
> chilled. Is a month "cruel" in the same way that Himmler was cruel. Are
> both April and Himmler cruel in the same way that trench warfare was
> cruel?
> Literal meaning, whatever we mean by literal meaning, is not something
> one should sneer at. Poets really couldn't get along very well without
> marshalling lots of literal meanings. And we certainly do need literal
> water in TWL: "The hot water at ten." Why "THE hot water"? Is "The"
> there simply for the sake of the meter, or is that hot water some very
> special hot water that requires a definite article. Diana seems to want
> everything to be meaningful in some big way, so we had better decide
> what "The" means here.
> Carrol
> -- 
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2:42 PM