Explanation versus Depth

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Unlike the boat poem we read before, I understood John Keats's "On First Looking..." for the most part. I was still a bit lost in translation because I didn't know who Chapman was or why he was important or really about the controversy between the original greek (I think it is) and the English translation, but I still loved the poem.

I wanted to note that in chapter nine on page 141 there is a paragraph of information summarizing the poem. This summarization really helped, but I see how (with all the lost metaphors/similies) it loses its greatness and its depth.

This reminded me of the middle and high school books that we would read Shakespeare or other old works. On the left page was the original text (or older English translation) while the right page had notes that explained what a certain passage was saying or an old phrase/reference. The paragraph is Roberts reminded me of this. It's clarification, it's like Sparknotes, it's helpful (sometimes necessary), but not nearly as good.

I'm torn though between liking that old high school style where the answer/message was delivered alongside of story or the new college level of struggling through it, but getting more out of it.

If you had something similiar, which do you prefer? Do you think as college students it's our duty to decipher everything now? What about those still not skilled in the meanings of poetry?

SO

1 Comments

Josie Rush said:

While my high school didn't have the version with the "translating" text on the other side, we did have teachers who went to great lengths to make sure we understood what was being said. I freely admit that then, and even now, there are times that without that assistance, I wouldn't have been able to understand what Shakespeare was saying. Though, Aja, you make a good point when you say that though we struggle through something, we "get more out of it." I think most of the time, Shakespeare's language is not only impressive because of what he says, but, obviously how he says it, and changing that around means things get lost in translation. There are definitely times when we need a hand, and in that case, we should look up meaning or ask someone who knows. But for the most part, I think that we lose too much by forfeiting, not only the struggle, but the original text.

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