. . . 4. All poetry must be accompanied by a non poetic translation in order to reveal the message of the poem to those who would have been denied it by their cultural background.
5. All poetic devices (similes, metaphors, neologisms, and other word use which is not directly informative) should be referenced with explanatory notes. Poets should provide an accurate description of the conditions the poem was composed and recorded in, so that the poem may be confirmed by other poets. . .
Such blessed relief, thank you TA, thank you, thank you . . . Why do poetry threads – like poetry in general — seem to magnetise so many insufferably pretentious blather artists?
There might be a clue in this famous remark of Nabokov’s:
Poetry involves the mysteries of the irrational perceived through rational words.
What is most mysterious and indefinable also leaves room for the most posturing, vacuous speculation, specious claims to authority – and tedious sniping without end. If there were a Nobel prize for windbaggery, scientists, who specialise in demystification and whose pronouncements are severely constrained by rationality, couldn’t begin to compete for it against the self-appointed ‘experts’ on literature (never mind how many degrees they pile up for ‘credentials’).
What is most wonderful about (good) poetry is that it overlaps with music, the most inexplicable branch of the arts. I’ve been reading George Steiner — that rarest of litcritters, who offers actual food for thought — and who says,
To understand music is to be confronted with the surprisingly confining limits of language. Only dance, perhaps, can explicate music. Asked to explain a difficult étude, Schumann simply played it a second, then a third time.
Now there’s a response – Schumann’s – I can perfectly understand and respect.
Steiner, in the same iconoclastic essay on education I’ve been devouring like chocolate oranges (‘School Terms’) reminds us that Plato restricted music ‘to athletic and military functions in the ideal polis.’
Perhaps because of our discussion of the WWI poets, that old Greek’s fence line recalled music’s ability to kindle the kind of enthusiasm able to ‘set armies marching’ in a hoary Chinese book of divination I loved as a sapling. The passage continues:
From immemorial times the inspiring effect of the invisible sound that moves all hearts, and draws them together, has mystified mankind.
So I’d say, by all means, play the poetry again. . . and again . . , but keep the explaining to a scant minimum. And why not try dancing it instead, if you can — or dare?