Eric: Are you saying other people agree with Mike? I was hoping he was just nuts. The article Robert Paul posted, http://www.newyorker.com/critics/books/articles/061009crbo_books1 , bears on this in regard to Hart Crane. Note on page 3 that Harriet Monroe of Poetry magazine replied to a Crane submittal "with bewilderment, 'Take me for a hard-boiled unimaginative unpoetic reader, and tell me how dice can bequeath an embassy (or anything else); and how a calyx (of death's bounty or anything else) can give back a scattered chapter, livid hieroglyph; and how, if it does, such a portent can be wound in corridors (of shells or anything else). And so on.' "The poet's reply, which is included in the Library of America volume, has become a key document of poetic modernism. Crane admitted that he was 'more interested in the so-called illogical impingements of the connotations of words on the consciousness . . . than I am interested in the preservation of their logically rigid significations.' What Monroe saw as nonsense Crane insisted was a higher kind of sense. He wrote, 'The nuances of feeling and observation in a poem may well call for certain liberties which you claim the poet has no right to take. I am simply making the claim that the poet does have that authority.'" This is a slightly different problem than the one Mike presents, but it seems to me related. Crane reserves the right to write in accordance with a design of his own which abjures logic. I don't have too much of a problem with the concept, and yet years ago I tried to like Crane's poetry and failed. Did his illogicality get in the way of my appreciation? Was I being like Harriet Monroe? I don't recall. Mike goes a step further than Crane in reserving the right to be illogical in his understanding, that is, he is insisting that his understanding need not be logically related to the poem he is reading. I have an image here of one of those modern dances. There is the poet dancing with his poem, and Mike dances nearby in an unrelated way. "Hey Mike, Is what you are doing related to that poet over there or his poem?" "What, are you talking to me?" Mike answers in perplexity. "What poet? What poem? I have my own thing going on here and you are bothering me." Lawrence -----Original Message----- From: lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Eric Yost Sent: Thursday, October 12, 2006 2:16 PM To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: American poetic scene at the beginning of 72 Mike: The student reader-community came to the poem with very different cultural assumptions and symbolizations. What did Roethke intend? Who cares? We should all care and I feel like ranting about it. As Bertrand Russell noted in _The ABCs of Relativity_, if everything is relative there's nothing for it to be relative to. The student-reader community is seldom right about poetry, or to be less dogmatic here, the student-reader community has an unschooled opinion. That's why they are....students. Poetry and the traditions of poetry are important especially because they preserve cultural values, and as such they are subjects that can be taught, meaning that students are unschooled and trained teachers can correct their naive understanding. Instead of taking a cue from TS Eliot's "Tradition and the Individual Talent," contemporary poets now give us prose lineated as poetry, as generation after generation of poets was taught to abandon meter and metaphor altogether in favor of trying to write philosophy, social commentary, private diaries, and essays with a ragged right edge. Now poetry is belittled and marginalized -- no longer a force for anything in culture, except among an increasingly alienated elite who find it difficult to say just what it is they're doing, and why, to ordinary people. The politics of poetry are so vicious because the stakes are so small, as Hutchins famously said of academic politics. I mean, except as an article to read in the New Yorker that you don't even read all of because after a while you realize that it's all just the same sort of politics that you're reading the New Yorker to avoid thinking about in your own life. Instead of apprenticeship to poetry, we have an ultrademocratized easy-and-fun-for-beginners approach, based on a sense that students can never be wrong. It's not progress. It's not liberating. It's not cool. It's the tedious "old spontaneous me" of Whitman imitation. Get out the old bongo drums, snap your fingers, then walk home amid the blowing trash and waste of a million egotists who never can be wrong.