"DIFFICULT" POETRY

The difficulty of poetry (and modern poetry is supposed to be difficult) may be due to one of several reasons. First, there may be personal causes which make it impossible for a poet to express himself in any way but an obscure way; while this may be regrettable, we should be glad, I think, that the man has been able to express himself at all. Or difficulty may be due just to novelty: we know the ridicule accorded in turn to Wordsworth, Shelley and Keats, Tennyson and Browning--but must remark that Browning was the first to be called difficult; hostile critics of the earlier poets found them difficult, but called them silly. Or difficulty may be caused by the reader's having been told, or having suggested to himself, that the poem is going to prove difficult. The ordinary reader, when warned against the obscurity of a poem, is apt to be thrown into a state of consternation very unfavourable to poetic receptivity. Instead of beginning, as he should, in a state of sensitivity, he obfuscates his senses by the desire to be clever and to look very hard for something he doesn't know what--or else by the desire not to be taken in. There is such a thing as stage fright, but

-50-

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Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Note 5
  • Select Bibliography Of Prose Writings 6
  • Contents 7
  • Part 1 - Literary Criticism 9
  • The Function of Criticism 11
  • Criticism 13
  • The Experience of Literature 17
  • Tradition 21
  • Tradition and the Individual Talent 23
  • Poetry and Philosophy 35
  • Romantic" and "Classic 40
  • Journalism and Literature 42
  • The Appreciation of Poetry 46
  • The Critic of Poetry 48
  • "Difficult" Poetry 50
  • Poetic Imagery 53
  • Metrical Innovation 54
  • Auditory Imagination 55
  • Part 2 - Dramatic Criticism 57
  • Poetic Drama 59
  • Greek Drama 61
  • The Pattern of Shakespeare 62
  • The Unity of Shakespeare 63
  • Ben Jonson 66
  • Middleton's "Changeling" 67
  • Part 3 - Individual Authors 69
  • Dissociation of Sensibility 71
  • Marvell 73
  • Blake 76
  • Coleridge 81
  • Wordsworth 83
  • Arnold 85
  • Walter Pater and "Marius The Epicurean" 88
  • Tennyson 93
  • Thomas Hardy 94
  • The PensÉes of Pascal 96
  • Baudelaire 116
  • Part 4 - Religion and Society 127
  • Christianity and Society 129
  • Christian" or "Pagan 131
  • War 133
  • Private Religions 134
  • The Reformation of Society 135
  • The Strait Gate 137
  • A Christian Community 138
  • Society and the Arts 142
  • Religion and Literature 145
  • Church and State 147
  • Conformity to Nature 151
  • Modern Education 154
  • The Decay of the Music-Hall 157
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