Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Kind Of Thing That Always Does Take Place

"Poetry is the most direct and simple means of expressing oneself in words: the most primitive nations have poetry, but only quite well developed civilizations can produce good prose. So don't think of poetry as a perverse and unnatural way of distorting ordinary prose statements: prose is a much less natural way of speaking than poetry is. If you listen to small children, and to the amount of chanting and singsong in their speech, you'll see what I mean."

"The poet's job is not to tell you what happened, but what happens: not what did take place, but the kind of thing that always does take place. He gives you the typical, recurring, or what Aristotle calls the universal event. You won't go to Macbeth to learn about the history of Scotland--you go to it to learn what a man feels like after he's gained a kingdom and lost his soul. When you meet such a character as Micawber in Dickens, you don't feel that there must have been a man Dickens knew who was exactly like this: you feel that there's a bit of Micawber in almost everybody you know, including yourself."

from The Educated Imagination, Northrop Frye


Mary Rae said...

I like Frye's comments and feel that poetry,the most concentrated form of language, can have great power.
Memorization of great poems used to be part of English programs, but that has faded away for the most part. The few poems I have memorized over the years have stood me in good stead,bringing pleasure, solace, revelations and more. I think the meaning of a poem deepens over the years along with life experience and is always new.

Doug P. Baker said...