Wednesday, February 19, 2014

You do not really feel that.

"Sentimentality" is often the accusation brought by the critic when he would refuse some experience or idea arising in the poem that does not satisfy or support his personal world of values but would threaten, if it were allowed, to undo that world.  The word "sentimental" means "supposed" experience, I suppose.  "You do not really feel that" or "you are letting your feelings get away with you" is the reproof often where we would not like to allow the feeling detected to advance, lest we too feel what the advancing feeling brings with it.  Much of modern criticism of poetry is not to raise a crisis in our consideration of the content or to deepen our apprehension of the content, but to dismiss the content.  When such critics would bring the flight of imagination down to earth, they mean not the earth men have revered and worked with love and awe, the imagined earth, but the real estate modern man has made of Earth for his own uses.
-- Robert Duncan, "The Truth and Life of Myth"

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