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Passions in Poetry

Meaning and Effect

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serenity blaze
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25 posted 05-08-2008 11:51 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Here.

An offering?
http://www.123helpme.com/search.asp?text=Rhetorical&page=1&sort=rating

Some interesting reading for those inclined, which I found when I started pondering subliminal impact of words (which relates to a question I've asked in the forum before--somewhere.

How much responsibility does an author have for the effect he/she has on their reader? Or any artist utilizing any art form, for that matter?

(I don't have an opinion to offer to that, by the way. I'm just honestly interested in reading the thoughts of others on the subject.)
Bob K
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26 posted 05-08-2008 11:59 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K


Poor Brad!  People always want to know "What DOES that poem mean?"

     I've been thinking, This might be an answer:

IPVTU POOXF OIBWF OBOQS PCMFN FOEJU!

     You see this is a line of reasonably simple code.  Believe me, if Mr. Non-mathematics here can come up with it, it's simple.  The difference between this line of code and

"I am the self-consumer of my woe,"

A lovely line of poetry by the poet John Clare, has to do with the kinds of meaning we are talking about.  In my line of simple code, I can actually tell you what it means.  I can de-code the code for you.  There is an actual answer to the question. "What does it mean?" because we are talking about information that is, for all practical purposes, non-symbolic and digital.  It functions like in most cases a laundry list.  It means nothing beyond what it says it means with a few small hints and dribbles of feeling that, once you decode it, you will probably read fairly well from context.

     A traffic Stop sign might be less ambiguous.  A sign for a bathroom these days might be more ambiguous with all the cute variations loading secondary meaning onto the  basic information (Setters and Pointers, Guys and Dolls).  Any of these can have a meaning that can be explained in a  fairly straightforward way.

     The straightforward statement I have rendered into code was once pretty much unambiguous, but over time layers of symbolic meaning have been grafted onto it.  Even so, it's still straightforward; a meaning can be ascribed without too much difficulty.

     Poems however are deceptive in this way.  Even those which seem to have a photographic clarity have a certain amount of symbolic structure, and symbols cannot be reduced any further than they already have been.  Symbols do not MEAN anything;  symbols alter the way we see the meaning of other things.
If you were to pick up a magnifying glass, look at it closely, and think about it, you would not ask yourself what does this magnifying glass MEAN; and a poem or a good piece of prose has a function something like that magnifying glass.  It changes our ability to look at the world because it shifts our empathy and understanding in one direction or another.  A poem is a machine made of words for changing people into better people.

     If you are Catholic, it may seem difficult to answer what the Mass means.  The Mass doesn't really MEAN something so much as it DOES something for the communicants.  (There is an interesting essay on the transformation symbolism of the Mass by C.G. Jung that's worth banging your head against, should you have the spare time and Ibuprofin.)  if I understand correctly.  It takes the celebrants from one place of the spirit to another and helps them more fully experience being a part of the communion of the Church.  It accomplishes something literally wonder-full.  Now I am not Catholic, but I've seen how the Mass affects believers.  It's certainly real enough.  Whether you believe in God or not, and there are many times I don't, something pretty fantastic happens for those who participate.
  
     A question about "What does it mean?" may only be meaningful to people who've missed the core of the experience.  The question itself misses the point.

     The same with poems.  

     What you can do with poems is essentially talk about how they go about doing that voodoo that they do so well.  You can give the specifics for the prescription for the lens that the poem uses to transform the vision of the reader or listener, to enable that person ever afterward to experience the world in some essential way transformed, different, changed from the way they were before they met this goofy looking poem drinking coffee in a diner one day.  Or taking a snooze between covers in a bookstore.  Or wherever.  

     You can talk about use of metaphor, meter or breath units, use of sense impression, abstraction, quality of verbs, length of lines and sentences and get some feeling for how the transformation from one state of being to another was accomplished.

     But if you're asking what that poem means, the truth is it may not mean anything to you.  Not every poem has magic for everybody.  Not every poem is any good, and even with great poems, this particular great poem may have been a failure for you.  This isn't your failure, you know.  You may have been off that day or the poem may have been off that day.  (I think poems can have off days too; some of them are very old and forgetful, some of them are plain silly, and some of them don't care very much for us and demand that we do more work than we think we should have to.  If we don't have exams about them to deal with, they can darn well wait for us to get around to them or, better yet, they can learn to treat us better.  It's only polite.)  

     Who knows what the silly things are doing when we don't keep a close watch on them, anyway.

     A poem's supposed to change who you are and the way you see things.  Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't.

     Often it helps if you read the things out loud.  Asking what they mean simply means they've not done their job for you.  Try reading them aloud.  Do what you can to clean the window they're trying to open, but don't bang your head on it.  Move on, take a deep cleansing breath and move on to something that's more fun.  Come back later and play with it if you still feel drawn to it, but put it aside if you feel that sense of frustration that you don't know what it means.

     It's an instrument for viewing the world, not a crossword puzzle.  Enjoy it.

For what it's worth:


HOUST ONNWE NHAVE NANPR OBLEM ENDIT

Or

Houston we have a problem

The extra N's function as nulls or place-holders.  End it.  Bob K.

I hate code.

[This message has been edited by Bob K (05-09-2008 10:56 AM).]

Stephanos
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27 posted 05-10-2008 01:20 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Bob:
quote:
If you are Catholic, it may seem difficult to answer what the Mass means.  The Mass doesn't really MEAN something so much as it DOES something for the communicants.  (There is an interesting essay on the transformation symbolism of the Mass by C.G. Jung that's worth banging your head against, should you have the spare time and Ibuprofin.)  if I understand correctly.  It takes the celebrants from one place of the spirit to another and helps them more fully experience being a part of the communion of the Church.  It accomplishes something literally wonder-full.  Now I am not Catholic, but I've seen how the Mass affects believers.  It's certainly real enough.  Whether you believe in God or not, and there are many times I don't, something pretty fantastic happens for those who participate.
  
     A question about "What does it mean?" may only be meaningful to people who've missed the core of the experience.  The question itself misses the point.


Not to take this discussion into Ecclesiology or Theology, but I think you're minimizing the role of 'meaning' in the Mass, or artificially separating the meaning from the experience.  Devout Catholics would tell you that both meaning and experience are essential.  And "what does it mean?" is a perfectly good introductory question to such things.  That's why in most religious settings, Catechism (or something like it) usually precedes rituals and deep religious experience.  It is hard for me to imagine anyone even coming to Mass without some prior communication of what it means in relation to Christ and his passion.  Does that mean that the experiential cannot precede communication of "meaning"?  Not at all.  I just don't think it is so neatly separated as that.

So, back to the subject, why can't we say that both meaning and experience (or effect) are important in relation to poetry?  I don't think it is accidental or incidental that Brad is perennially questioned about meaning, though his complaint of how it can lead to a narrow experience of what poetry is about, is a valid one.


Stephen
Bob K
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28 posted 05-10-2008 04:03 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K


Dear Stephanos,

          I went to mass without Catholic education.  I went to Quaker Meetings without education by The Society of Friends.  The Presbyterians and the Methodists were gracious to me as well.  I've been to a lot of services and been pretty impressed by most of them.  Some I've followed up in significantly more depth than others.

     I've had some substantial religious experience in some; lesser and none in others.

     I don't expect anybody to duplicate my experience, though they may.  I don't regard my experience as prescriptive; I barely regard it as descriptive.  I do think that if religious experience could be reduced to smaller and more precisely defined and commonly accepted pieces, there would be less disagreement about it.  By its very nature, it is a unitary way of experiencing the world.

     It's like a lens.  Any attempt to disassemble it further to assign meaning, simply confuses rather than clarifies.  Religious experience does not mean something, it is a meaning in itself.

     As with poetry, you might talk about how the experience of religion goes about creating meaning in the world, how it gives the world this or that sort of transformative structure, catalyzes this or that reaction from this or that person, but the poem doesn't change.  It doesn't mean; it makes other things change and mean differently around it; or, sometimes, it fails.  It's not the fault of the Tao you're not a Taoist.  The teachings are there.  They've changed me, and though I could not tell you explicitly what they mean, I have found them useful.

     This is pitiful poor excuse for clarity at this point.

     I say tentatively at this point that revelation is what happens when the symbolism within a faith becomes available, somehow; and suddenly a person is able to use that symbolism to look at the world differently, and shazam! their world is transformed.

     If you can explain what the prescription is for that particular lens, the mathematics of it, that would account for the difference in vision, wouldn't it? pre- and post-revelation?  But I suspect it would still leave Seoulair asking for an explanation of what all that math meant.  People are dreadfully uncomfortable with the notion of symbol.  People find symbols extraordinarily difficult to live with.  When you talk about God, many people won't be satisfied until they can force you to lie to them and get you to give them a mug shot with height, weight, gender, age, race and fingerprints:  You'd better be sure to include God's religion and country of origin while you're at it, because they will be satisfied with nothing less.

     Most people can't get out of bed in the morning without breaking the first commandment, simply because they can't imagine what Nels Ferre called The Living God of Nowhere And Nothing.

     I've just wasted a large amount of time rehashing in theological terms what I was trying to cover in terms of poetry last night.  I'm sorry, Stephanos, and anyone else who's listening, for wasting your time this way.  Though I do confess a ratty little piece of enjoyment.   Don't tell.
  
     Thanks for putting up with me here, BobK.

    
Stephanos
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29 posted 05-10-2008 10:51 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Bob, I was merely pointing out that your description of Mass was not a particularly Roman Catholic one.  Of course I understand that you aren't presently concerned with the claims of Orthodoxy, and even doubt whether it matters.  I still think that the Cardinal beliefs (or the realities behind those beliefs) hold a kind of primacy, when it comes to something like the Mass, or Eucharist, or Lord's Supper, etc...  Religious experience is valuable, but not as self-reliant.  It isn't intrinsically good or trustworthy on its own.  Doctrine, meaning, significance are the illuminating guides if not the strict judges of experience.  For example, a profound religious experience in a Methodist gathering would not be compatible with a conclusion that there is no God.  The moment you settle there, the "religious" has parted altogether.    

In a similar way, if someone were to say that "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" did not mean to communicate an ethos of love as opposed to reckless hate, they would be stepping out of textual bounds in order to say so.  In simplest terms, they would be wrong.  Of course all poems are not so didactic, nor should they be.  But sometimes we are somewhat obligated to extract a particular thought or truth, dictated by context and words.  It isn't iron-clad of course.  It is much more organic than chisled.  But flesh has boundaries as well as stone.

That's not to say there aren't poems without any "meaning" at all ... simply meant to transport and engage the nerves (so to speak).  But I think it would be presumptuous to say that either tendency in the history of poetry is better.  Most of the time there is a mixture.  Personally, I think it is postmodern philosophy that shies away from the question of meaning, whereas the poetry of another age often took simplistic concepts like 'meaning' for granted.  Neither is wrong in my opinion, only different.


Consider yourself "put up with" ... at least as much as I hope to be.      

Stephen    
Bob K
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30 posted 05-10-2008 11:33 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K


Stephanos,

         That's what you see when you look at the world after looking at it after reading Coleridge.  That and much else as well.  That's not what the poem means, it's what the poem does to you.  You can't see the world quite the same way again.

     You also see the the world as a much more driven place, a much crueler place, a much more fated place.  You also see the world as a more beautiful place, with visual wonders especially presenting themselves you might never have imagined otherwise.

     The poem MEANS none of these things.  After reading the poem, maybe after reading it aloud, your experience of the world changes afterward.  You change a little bit afterward.  This is the nature of symbolic experience.  There is no one to one correspondence between one thing and another.

     This is the difference between symbolic and allegorical modes.  In Bunyan, for example, there is a one to one correspondence between the characters and the various traits Bunyan discusses.  Sloth, the Character, is Sloth the sin.  The one stands for the other; this, however, in my view puts these sorts of allegorical inventions into the realm of sign rather than symbol.  The  internationally recognized and standardized design of the outline of a stylized woman in a dress  painted inside a circle, by convention, actually MEANS a women's Loo.  Nobody is likely to mistake it for a ski run.
Possible, of course, as are carnivorous sheep, but unlikely.

     If, however, I were to show you a copy of "The Rime of The Ancient Mariner," and ask you what it meant, you could get two hundred years of literary critics to give you opinions and thoughts on its meaning and still find considerable room for more work and though on its meaning to be done.  I'm talking about it's MEANING now, not the various other fascinating side-lights that the poem offers.  You may have read already The Road to Xanadau by Livingston Lowes.

     Thanks for opening up this interesting piece of conversation.  It really does have to do with how people look at poetry.  Much of poetry is taught as though all poetry was written as allegory, and if one only had the key, one would have the answer.  That was in fact the point of my little side trip into code.  I guess that example didn't help out the way I'd hoped it might.

     Best, BobK.

[This message has been edited by Bob K (05-11-2008 01:21 AM).]

Stephanos
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31 posted 05-11-2008 11:01 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Bob:
quote:
That's not what the poem means, it's what the poem does to you.  You can't see the world quite the same way again.

... You also see the world as a more beautiful place, with visual wonders especially presenting themselves you might never have imagined otherwise.

The poem MEANS none of these things.


Usually Bob, when there are discussions like you and I are having, I begin to suspect that there is more agreement than disagreement ... only we can't agree that it is so.      

Asking whether something "changes the way you see the world", or "holds meaning", is to drift into semantics.  To put it more simply, meaning is a description of the intended scope of direction for the change you are referring to.  It was "meant" to change the way you see things.  

Of course the author of a text is not the absolute determiner of this "meaning", but is still most likely the best place to start in one's consideration.  Others can still "get it wrong".  To give you an example, Dostoevsky's "Notes From Underground" was intended as a powerful critique of Enlightenment Rationalism and Atheism.  Later writers of course, such as Nietzsche and Sartre, saw only the demise of rationalism (ignoring Dostoevsky's piety) and therefore missed the primary meaning. It's not that one view is right and the other wrong, it is that one is more right than the other, or more complete.  What was birthed was something that "meant" something radically different than the Theistic Existentialism of Dostoevsky.


In a Theology book I have which discusses the philosophy of Deconstructionism, ala Jacques Derrida, I found written that two principles emerge in this philosophy:

1.  Anything that is written will convey meanings which its author did not intend and could not have intended

2.  The author cannot adequately put into words what he or she means in the first place
(Alister McGrath)


I'm not arguing whether or not, or to what degree this is true.  But I do believe the discussion we're having is because of this philosophical pedigree, not because of the experience of reading poetry itself.

But I will end by suggesting that while you are right that not all poetry is "allegorical", much of it is, or has a mixture of that very tendency.  And if so, then it is at least proper to think that way part of the time as a reader of poetry.
  
Stephen
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32 posted 05-12-2008 12:11 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K


Dear Stephanos,

           I don't think a poem is "meant" to change the way you see things.  A poem is an object of obsession that is worked on for its own sake until abandoned.  If it is for purely personal use and it is successful, it may do what needs to be done only for the author.  "What needs to be done" in this case is to serve as what psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott in another context called a transitional object or transitional phenomenon.  It helps soothe a frightened child like a teddy bear (that would be the 'transitional object' part) or a lullabye (which would be the "transitional phenomenon" part).

     If the poem can't be understood by anybody else, but it's good enough to soothe the writer, its job is done and everything is fine.  Its meaning is in the soothing, and it holds that for one person only, who doesn't know how to or doesn't care to or isn't obsessed enough to take the poem further.  That's one heck of a terrific poem if a poem can do that.  Most folks will never see any poem of that sort unless it belongs to a son or a daughter or a very very close friend.  Its purpose has already been fulfilled, and sharing it is pointless.

     It is made by groping around with the primitive magic a child has among sounds and rhythms and pictures and making something pleasing, something soothing out of those things that provides direct relief from distress.  It's pretty tailored to a single physiology.

     Actual poems that mean something to other people have to be able to speak the primitive language that everybody in that language group speaks.  You skip over a stage, because while a very young child can sooth itself with proto poems of chanted sounds and rhythms, once you get language, it's almost always one language at a time.  You will sometimes get three and four year olds singing or talking what's called plain-chant, listing the things they're going to do to the monsters under the bed or what they have to do during the day.  These still have the function of relief of anxiety and fear with transitional objects or phenomena.  The exact meaning doesn't have to be known for the soothing to take place.

     Frank McCourt, for example, the author, talks about learning the prayer "Hail Mary" as a child and only later realizing that there was no monk swimming through the prayer, but instead the phrase, "amongst women."  It made more sense, he felt foolish, but the soothing of all those prior repetitions of the prayer had still been there, as much as possible for a young boy.

     Still later, if you still find yourself writing, something happens to what it takes for you to feel the poem is complete.  I myself have never worked to put meaning into a poem, I've only worked on the poem itself, the language, the sounds, the sense, the swing, the feel, the smell, the pictures, the movie of it, and I depend on my sense of closure to tell me when it's done.  (I'm sure there are others out there who write other ways, but I don't know how to go about it.) If in fact you're paying attention to those details, then who you are, your personal demons and obsessions, the very forces that shape you as a person psychologically, emotionally, archetypally and spiritually are coming to bear on that same piece of work and are being integrated into it.  You can't help it.

     What you are, what you are reaching for and what you hope to become are there as well.  When the poem is finished, there the whole thing stands.  It doesn't mean anything, Stephanos, it is something.  If it's a good poem, then every time somebody goes back to it they will see somebody coming to terms with the unbearable edge of experience, sad, ecstatic, clear, whatever it may be at that particular moment, and soothing themselves through it.  A poet may do this in all sorts of ways.  You have to write the poem yourself to discover what that way is this time.

     Even if you've read it before, if a poem is a good one, you'll feel the top of your head come loose because once again you've arrived at an unexpected place and once again you don't know quite how you've gotten here.  That's when you'll feel most tempted to ask, "What does this poem mean?"  

     The poem is a "symbol."  If a symbol could be paraphrased, it wouldn't be a symbol, it would be, instead, a "sign."  You can translate signs, like code, into something else that means the same thing.  A Cross or a Mogen David is a symbol.  If I asked you what either one meant you would probably say it's a symbol for Christianity or it's a symbol for Judaism.  You could still spend  close to forever trying to explain the Cross as a symbol and what that symbol meant.  The more you explained, there more there would be to explain.  The same with the Star of David.  The more you know, the more there is to say, the more connections there are to make.  I once knew a guy with a horror of discussion of symbolic material.  I sympathized.  The guy called those discussions "everything is everything" discussions.

     As for the poet, the poet's far better off writing the next poem than trying to tell people what to think about the last one, especially about what it means.  You might have gotten the 16th century writers of Allegory to do otherwise, or Dante, all wonderful poets.  Every time I try to read them, however, I find them not to my personal taste and my eyebrows fall off.

     A reader ought to be able to follow what's happening in a poem.  A poem, as Ezra Pound said, should be at least as well written as prose. ( I only wish Pound had been able let folks be clear about what was happening, but that's my value and not his.)  A poem ought to be a pleasure to hear, with wonderful sounds and effects that don't distract from the sense of the thing, and the overall effect should be clear and definite.  The poem ought to yield the same surprise and pleasure with each reading and reveal more of itself with time.  The poem should give the same sense of comfort as a treasured friend.  The overall effect of this should yield a sense of the symbolic value of the poem, how the fit of these elements changes the reader's experience of the world.

     Any attempt to pick one element or another of the symbolic structure of the poem to designate as "the meaning" produces a sense of the reduction of the sense of the wholeness of the poem.  It is a reductio ad absurdum that in effect damages rather than enhances the overall understanding of the poem, which is best sensed as a whole.

     I don't know if I'm rising to the challenge of clarity here or not.  I love your use of theology as lit crit.  I've tried to keep the discussion rolling as best I could here.  You do have a lively way of thinking about things.  I wonder how Brad's taking all this, and the rest of the folks.  I hope we're not skewing the discussion too far away from their interests.  Best to you, your wife and kids, BobK  

        
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quote:
A poem is an object of obsession that is worked on for its own sake until abandoned.  If it is for purely personal use and it is successful, it may do what needs to be done only for the author.


But this would be true only when it is true.  Not all poetry is written "only for the author".  Poetry is, in many instances, consciously more than a form of self psycho-therapy ... It is that sometimes, of course.  Or perhaps it is all of the time.  But it isn't only that all of the time.  It seems that you are interpreting the whole of poetry from a psychoanalytic perspective, a very recent movement.  But there is much more to it ... and many other motivations for writing involved.

And as to your discussion of symbol, the inherent value of a symbol (as separate from that which is symbolized) is only part of the story.  It is still always representative of something else; and if not a highly specific "something", at least something which is identifiable.  

My whole point is that the question of meaning is not everything in poetry, but it is still a valid one ... only stigmatized perhaps by its overuse, or by the influence of fairly recent linguistic philosophies.  


quote:
I myself have never worked to put meaning into a poem, I've only worked on the poem itself, the language, the sounds, the sense, the swing, the feel, the smell, the pictures, the movie of it ...

If in fact you're paying attention to those details, then who you are, your personal demons and obsessions, the very forces that shape you as a person psychologically, emotionally, archetypally and spiritually are coming to bear on that same piece of work and are being integrated into it.  You can't help it.


No, you're right.  I'm not saying that anyone always has to "work" on conveying meaning.  Though sometimes they may consciously do so.  Much of this is automatic in writing.  But this isn't so surprising, since we are personal linguistic beings, creations of the "Logos", always ascribing meanings small and great.  


Bob, I have enjoyed this discussion.  And yet I still think we agree more than we know.  Regardless, I believe this is a good excercise to try and express our thoughts on the matter.
  

Stephen
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34 posted 05-12-2008 09:34 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K




Dear Stephanos,

           Wonderful note.  Thanks.

             In one sense at least every poem [/i]is and cannot help but be written solely for the author.  And that sense is that the poem must satisfy  that author's sense of well-formedness as a poem before it goes anyplace for anybody other than that author to see it.  It is not [i]a poem without that imprimatur.  Much of the time it may be given with reservations, but without it, the poem never leaves the desk other than to take the trip to the wastebasket.  

     In Emily Dickinson's case, they may not have left her desk, but they clearly had her imprimatur.  She bound each of them by hand.

     As for psychoanalysis, I use the language of psychoanalysis because psychoanalysis has language specifically designed to talk about this sort of experience.  Winnicott was a pediatrician before he was a psychoanalyst, and he preferred worked with children through most of his career.  You don't have to use his vocabulary, however, if it offends you, since once the basic ideas about soothing have been stated they seem clear enough and they don't require you to sign on to any of the Freudian theories that folks these days find upsetting.  They're actually pretty practical.

     I sometimes find myself humming a familiar tune when I'm on an airplane take-off or landing, or while I'm getting  an uncomfortable injection at the dentist.  The stress there is greater than the kind that kick-starts the process in many of us poets.

     Poetry is not only that.  I agree.

     A symbol, however, is not the thing symbolized; it is something of a different order.  As they say in General Semantics, "The map is not the territory."  (I would go further and say that the symbol is not even a map, though that would have to be a different thread.)  Sometimes people fight when they forget that distinction.

  Mostly I've been talking to Brad's comments about being asked what a poem means, and the impossibility of answering that in a meaningful way, and how that comes down to the nature of symbol.

     The other leg of that question is how does a poet make a poem so clear and concrete and realized and filled with sights and sounds that it doesn't seem abstract enough to even have any relationship to a symbol at all, and that the question of what does this poem mean feels as out of place as it does in some of Kipling's verse, or in Houseman's verse.  In Kenneth Koch's wonderful long poem, "The Art of Poetry," he remains absolutely clear at least to me about the process of writing while being wildly funny.  At the end of the poem, I have a tough time imagining somebody asking, "What does it mean?"

     So, we need to ask ourselves, what are we doing that so puzzles people.  

     As in,  "What the heck do you mean, what does it mean?  Exactly what do you find so confusing?"  

     I have deleted my own expletives.

     Sincerely yours,  Bob K.

      
Brad
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since 08-20-99
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Jejudo, South Korea


35 posted 05-12-2008 11:28 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Hey guys,

I'm reading. Just wanted to let you know that.

I don't have time to respond to any of it right now, but it's interesting.

To be honest, I wasn't really thinking theoretically (at least not consciously).

I was thinking more along the lines that while it's always okay to ask questions, it's also okay for the author to avoid answering.

Later, I began to think more about the whole problem of answering as such.

I think the allegoric/symbolic is a problem, but my guess is also the show/tell distinction. People tend to see poetry, today, as purely lyrical, emotional, etc. and if that's not clear, they tend to want to see it as allegorical for that (Maybe. I don't know.).  Somewhere the whole idea of a dramatic monologue where the scene is not overtly explained is/has been lost.

I'm not sure.  

Stephanos
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since 07-31-2000
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Statesboro, GA, USA


36 posted 05-13-2008 12:44 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
I was thinking more along the lines that while it's always okay to ask questions, it's also okay for the author to avoid answering.


Brad, of course it is.  And if you die (as most poets have), you positively can't answer.      

Of course then, we'll get to rummage through all of your belongings, talk to all the people who knew you personally, and analyze your entire corpus of writing (including posthumous) for a better understanding of what you really meant when you wrote that roses are red.      


Stephen
rwood
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since 02-29-2000
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Tennessee


37 posted 05-27-2008 08:59 AM       View Profile for rwood   Email rwood   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for rwood

Sometimes there are no questions, just an awe or a feeling of possession, as with an old leather-bound book of poetry found amongst a pile of moth dusty belongings in an attic. The author is unfamiliar. The pages are yellowed and so frail they fear the fingers to touch, but every nerve ending still feels and knows: Poetry.

Meaning is as different from one to another as it is for the value of the book; Tossed out as garbage, lost until it becomes an organic measure of nothingness, or treasured on a table.

I think it's very appropriate to ask questions, but it's probably a great indication that the inquirer has a personal placement value with the piece in question. Toss it, lost, or treasured?

If the poet answers the question properly the reader may well place the poem in esteem. They may come to an "Ah ha" conclusion or they may simply be wasting the writer's time without any noble intentions. They might just be trying to get your phone number! Lmao.


As for effect, some need props, a stage-band, and explanations. Others simply see the world as an audience, dance without any music, and are acquiesced by the scent of leathered words and antiquated ink.

My appreciations aren't always appreciated by the hierarchy of poetical authority and that's quite alright because there really isn't one. Dr. Seuss demoted them.
 
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