4.25.2007

Pinsky and easy and difficult poetry

One thing that immediately rises to the top in this article is that none of the poems quoted seem particularly difficult --

to add to that, he cites the favorite poem project, hardly a cache of the really abstruse stuff

now, part of this is because Pinsky is actually a decent explicator of poetry (in my opinion); he is smart, but doesn't wear it terribly heavily -- in otherwords, I think he could do a pretty decent job with something really tough and make it seem like, "heck this is easy, aren't we enjoying this great little poem"

a problem with difficult poetry is that if you've got an author who might write easy poetry, popular poetry as well as so called difficult poetry all at once -- so if it is not specific to an author, what is this quality we call difficulty? is its opposite accessibility? single-layeredness? or is it really short hand for the bad poems of a given author -- the one no one "gets"? or, alternatively, is a poem any good if no one gets it? it is then better if more people understand it?

or, is difficulty a question of entertainment?

in his examples, one poem by Yeats uses an antiquated trope for poetry -- a winged horse or bird or something -- so is it difficult if it assumed knowledges that used to be commmonplace but are now only commonplace to specialists so wound in to their specialty that they get it? or -- any knowledges assumed make a poem more difficult?

also in his examples, there's Shakespeare; but isn't Shakespeare most difficult because it is not written in contemporary English? and further, wherefore verse play? play? verse? so difficulty has something to do with language, and common language, and time?

or -- education, ability to read more than one era of English? or ability to not immediately comprehend every word and still enjoy? i.e., any English poem would be difficult to someone not fluent in English? but some non-fluent readers of a language enjoy struggling with the foreignness of certin types of language?

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