Eric comments on yesterday's chunk o' TWA:
"The individual passages have to be grasped as consequences of what has come before, the meaning of a divergent repetition has to be evaluated, and reappearance has to be perceived not merely as architectonic correspondence but as something that has evolved with necessity."Yes, indeed, I think that's true about how we read poems, at least one sort of poem (& it seems like a pretty close description of what the New Critics, bless their pointy little heads, used to tell us was the right way to trundle thru a Yeats poem. Which implies for me that Adorno's "immanent criticism" quite obviously has a lot in common with the New Criticism). In someone like Zukofsky or Ron Johnson, tho, I wonder if the notion of "evolving with necessity" – awfully reminiscent of "organic form" – might not have been eschewed in favor of something more like "architectonic correspondence"?
This seems true of how we read poems as well, no? Which leads me to wonder, is it more true of Beethoven than of other composers? You know music better than I do--is this true of some kinds, some periods, more than others?
I think Adorno sees this sort of music – what he calls "highly organized" music – as emerging more or less with Bach (Adornauts feel free to correct me), and reaching its maturity with Beethoven and the Romantics. Me know more about music than you? – bite your tongue, Mr. S! Bob Archambeau has just pointed me to a fascinating omnibus review by Richard Taruskin of recent Adornian-influenced "defences" of "high" classical music, in The New Republic; much to think about, & interesting parallels perhaps with the situation of contemporary poetry.
Speaking of Ron Johnson, I've just discovered an old correspondent, WB Keckler, has a very lively blog indeed, Joe Brainard's Pyjamas. And he's dug up a Ronald Johnson poem I didn't know existed, the man's elegy for Princess Di. I'm afraid I don't share William's enthusiasm for the poem, tho I can see how tastes might diverge on this sort of thing. But it reminded me of section 36 of Geoffrey Hill's Speech! Speech!, which addresses the same subject & deploys many of the same images, but to a far more mordant effect:
Huntress? No not thát huntress but some***
other creature of fable. And then for her |
like being hunted. Or inescapably
beholden (this should sound tired but not
emotional to excess). Half forgotten
in one lifetime the funeral sentences
instantly resurrected – hów can they do it?
Whatever of our loves here lies apart:
whatever it is | you look for in sleep:
simple bio-degradation, a slather
of half-rotted black willow leaves
at the lake's edge.
And speaking of Geoffrey Hill, I wish could be at this, if only to see the dour one's expression while Jorie Graham reads.
Eric muses, perhaps with an anthology in mind, about why so much writing about poetry is so awful. What, he wonders, are some really wonderful pieces of writing addressing individual poems, or poetry in general? Three sentimental favorites of my own:
•John Ruskin phrase-by-phrase dissection of "Lycidas" in Sesame & LiliesSo what are your suggestions, readers gentle & ungentle?
•Hugh Kenner's Muybridgesque stop-motion of WCW's "Poem" (the one about the cat) in The Pound Era
•Susan Howe's fugue on "My Life had stood – a loaded Gun" in My Emily Dickinson