Reason & Imagination: A Study of Form and Meaning in Four Poems

Reason & Imagination: A Study of Form and Meaning in Four Poems

Reason & Imagination: A Study of Form and Meaning in Four Poems

Reason & Imagination: A Study of Form and Meaning in Four Poems

Excerpt

My aim in the following pages has not been to write a series of separate essays, though it may be found that each of my chapters will stand on its own feet without support from the others. What I have tried to do has been marked, in my own mind at any rate, by a certain unity. The central argument, the thread that links all the chapters, is the conviction that the imagination and the reason are related. There will be those who regard 'imagination and 'reason' as meaningless abstractions, mere echoes of an outdated faculty psychology. For them the argument may be put in more fashionable terminology. My contention is that the literary use of language is not in the final analysis separable from its discursive use; language is one and indivisible. The theory popular today, that literature is not propositional, that it makes something but does not say anything, is only a part of the truth. For I believe that a work of literature in making something also says something; that it communicates knowledge. It may be that a literary work can never be adequately translated into discursive terms, that there is no exact conceptual counterpart for the symbolic language of literature. But the truth of this does not entail that the attempt at translation is useless. For there may be partial success even where full victory is denied us. If it were otherwise, the critic's task would be not only difficult but impossible.

I have endeavoured to support and illustrate this argument by a discussion of four poems. All of these are concerned with ideas and in that sense may be said to be 'philosophical'. In discussing them I have attempted to show how poetry can express thought; how the imagination may become, in Coleridge's phrase, 'the agent of the Reason'. The way in which the imagination operates varies from poem to poem, but in each one it will be found, I believe, to reflect the philosophical preoccupations of its author and age. Symbol and concept go . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.