Tuesday, March 23, 2010

When in doubt

read T.S Eliot.
Open the book and start the conversation: Three voices of poetry, in the second one the poet is speaking in his proper person...invite others, here's Bunting in support (he isn't too keen on Eliot but they can be polite to each other) claiming that Wyatt rocks because he is writing about personal events and real people, Graves (what are these two doing together?) agrees: the poet is the poem and the sick poet writes a sick poem. But Northrop Frye is arguing that you should never confuse the appearance of sincerity in literature with the thing itself, and since the boy is a medievalist by training and preference we'd better hear from A.C.Spearing arguing that the sincerity typos is a creation of the middle ages, though while the poets may have realised it was a literary game their audiences, or their readers after they were dead, certainly did believe in it.


Which means, that realistically is there a difference for the reader between a first person poem or narrative and a dramatic monologue. If I read Mr Last Duchess I know that it's not the duke speaking but Browning putting words in his mouth. But If I read Heaney's Digging...I'm reading the words of a speaking character called Seamus Heaney who is the creation of a poet called Seamus Heaney. And the fact that x number of poets could be imagined saying the content of those lines undermines the whole autobiographical nature of the poem.

Back to TSE. I'd forgotten how much fun this is.

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