Thursday, June 10, 2010

Please don't encourage the afflatus!



If Keats is to be the ideal poet, ideal poetry too readily becomes a tissue of affectionate descriptions of nice things interrupted by occasional complaints that the real world is insufficiently productive of those nice things, and if any pupil should wonder what the dales of Arcardy have got to do with him, then the answer is that poetry deals with 'the world of the imagination', i.e. not with the real world.

[...]

To exalt into greatness one whose achievement was actually that of an often delightful, if often awkward, decorative poet may have, as was suggested above, harmful consequences. Any presumption that Keats might in time have become a major artist is cast in doubt by the fact that it is unpromising theories about poetry that derive from defects of character, quite as much as bad influences and the results of illness, which vitiate his existing work.

Click here to read the entire essay, and to discover who its author was!

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"A man can not only smell roses...but he can and does and ought to pluck roses and he can predicate of roses such and such. He can make a signum of roses. He can make attar of roses. He can garland them and make anathemata of them."

--David Jones, Epoch and Artist

Pictured: A flatus. (Wikipedia on afflatus: "not to be confused with flatulence.")

1 comment:

Ms Baroque said...

I woke up at 5am, and in perusing my laptop ended up reading that essay. Suffice to say I've never read anything quite like it before! There's clearly no pleasing some people. I love that sentence about "unpromising theories about poetry that derive from defects of character, quite as much as bad influences and the results of illness, which vitiate his existing work."

Vitiate!

And this: "Whatever the detail of Keats' performance, this achievement is such that no one who has never thought him the greatest poet in the world, no matter for how brief a period, has any real feeling for literature."

Ah, the cosy, clean feel of a categorical statement! Those indeed were the days...