Friday, March 12, 2004

I am trap in Zambia.

A Klingon blog. (via Languagehat) Another.
Lojban blogs: Nuzban, & La Danti Manti.

Somebody got here by googling "definiton of poetry from great poet".
I'm sorry if you didn't find your asignment here verbatim, but now maybe i can remedy it.
   Virgil never wrote any criticism, but i think he put his poetics into his Aeneid, & if you study it, you can discover some of the things he thought were important in poetry.
First, he told a story, & not only an interesting story, but an important one. Then, he used what would be perceived in his own time as "elevated language": archaism, inversion, metonymy, metaphor, compression, allusion & even outright quotation abound; he avoids saying things in a simple, vernacular way unless there's a particular reason to do so, & most of the time he looks for an expression that is musical, succinct, & just a little bit "out of focus". You won't find any direct subjectivity of the sort made mandatory in 19-20c. poetics, but Virgil's personality is found everywhere as a sort of melancholy haze & lingering. His use of meter is both flexible & ritualized--there are standard kinds of departures, & he played them like chess combinations (sometimes wittily). And he loved names--place names, nicknames, even genealogies. The poet in English most akin to Virgil is of course Milton, & you can see almost all the same virtues (or vices, if you are determinedly contemporary) there. I myself think there is no use defining "poetry", or even trying to determine "the best way to write". I would rather have you read works you feel a strong kinship with--& read them over & over. That is how poets used to educate themselves in the old days, & how a few of them, even now, still do.

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