The Curious Frame: Seven Poems in Text and Context

The Curious Frame: Seven Poems in Text and Context

The Curious Frame: Seven Poems in Text and Context

The Curious Frame: Seven Poems in Text and Context

Excerpt

This book is concerned with poetry, and the ways of reading it. Anyone who wants to read poetry, for whatever reason, may find here something of interest.

I should, however, say something about the rather strange organization of the volume. First, there is, so far as I am aware, no occult significance in the fact that seven poems are treated. It is, after all, with the second text of "Young Waters," eight not seven. Second, the chronological arrangement of the studies is only approximate. "Young Waters" is dateless, but it was first published in the 18th century. The poem "A Prayer for My Daughter," which comes last, was written three years before Rilke's sonnet of the horse.

In other words, I have made no pretense to covering the succeeding "periods" of literature from the 17th century to the present. The question of the poet's and our historical awareness is here and there much to the fore. But the book's organization is not basically historical, and it makes but perfunctory bows to literary history. Nor have I started out to get samplings from various languages, and stopped short by including only French and German besides English.

The poems by Baudelaire and Rilke are here, not because they are in French and German, but so to speak in spite of that fact. The book is addressed primarily to an English-speaking audience, and to those who are students primarily of English literature -- although I hope that students of French and German poetry, including native speakers of those languages, will not find my readings of these poems entirely ludicrous. These two poems are here, like the other poems, first of all because I like them. They say something.

This, then, was my first "rule" of selection. I wanted to write something about some poems that had excited my attention, no matter . . .

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