THE RELATIONS OF EXPERIENCE TO
MEANING OR "CONTENT"
"Über allen Gipfeln ist Ruh'."
A work of poetry as to its meaning is differentiated from every other expression of reality by its essential mental structure. It is an integral organic whole and, like a physical organism, it receives, except by external and injurious violence or corruption, additions from its environment by organic assimilation only. It reacts to its environment always as a closed integral whole, not as an aggregate of independent, self-sufficient units. But it is different from physical organisms in that its essential meaning does not involve primarily the physical relations of the mental processes involved in it. To the essential meaning of Goethe "Über allen Gipfeln ist Ruh'" considerations of possible physical fatigue, or sore feet, or indigestion, or age, or a toothache, would be irrelevant.
The fundamental violation of the poetic meaning by external intrusions is common to the methods of both dialectic absolutism and factualism.
The understanding of poetic meaning must begin always with the determination of the essential interrelations of each term, item, or element of meaning in a poem with the whole of its structure. Every other question, especially that of the relations of the poem to any