February 15, 2007

Telling it Like it is

The poet wants to "say" something. Why, then, doesn't he say it directly and forthrightly? Why is he willing to say it only through his metaphors? Through his metaphors, he risks saying it partially and obscurely, and risks not saying it at all. But the risk must be taken, for direct statement leads to abstraction and threatens to take us out of poetry altogether.
Cleanth Brooks "Irony as a Principle of Structure"

After reading this particular passage in Cleanth Brooks' essay, I thought of the common saying, "Don't listen to what I say, listen to what I mean."
Basically, this is what poet are asking their readers to do. Ignore the language barrier and head straight for the heart of meaning - almost a form of direct communication. As everyone knows, this isn't possible, there will always be a language barrier, even between the people speaking the same one.
When someone says "tree" for example, most people think of a physical tree, not the word or letters "t r e e." Here is where the metaphors come into play. Metaphors are the closest way to get the images, and therefor meaning, into the readers heads.
So no, don't read what the author writes, read what the author meant you to have written if you were the author.

Posted by Diana Geleskie at February 15, 2007 12:21 PM | TrackBack
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