[Milton-L] Fetishizing Greatness, was Re: Is Paradise Lost

Dr. Larry Gorman larry at eastwest.edu
Mon Apr 27 11:18:55 EDT 2009


George Lakoff argues that metaphor is embedded in language itself, that
it is embedded in what seems to be non-poetic, ordinary phrases.  I
think Frost's point was not so much that poems are poems because they
use metaphors, but that poetry is valuable because it teaches us how the
limits of metaphors; we can trust them so far but no farther.

 

My point was not so much that poets could be philosophers and vice
versa, but poetry is not one thing.  I think if one says Paradise Lost
is the greatest poem in the English language, one is implying that
poetry is one thing, that here is the standard by which we can judge the
greatest poems; look we have found it!  Leaving aside Shakespeare's
plays (and we could say these are plays and therefore are in another
genre and don't count), we still have to deal with something like The
Canterbury Tales, which seems to me trying to do something very
different.  

 

I'm not saying we shouldn't make judgments-sometimes it's hard not
to-but that we shouldn't take those judgments so seriously.  I believe
that what makes something literary is that it's a game.  Writers-even
serious writers like Milton-are playing a game with us, and often they
change the rules to keep the game interesting.  We evaluate the game on
how interesting the game is and how well we think the writer plays by
the rules.  Generally bad criticism is our getting the rules wrong.

 

________________________________

From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
[mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Salwa Khoddam
Sent: Sunday, April 26, 2009 8:07 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Fetishizing Greatness, was Re: Is Paradise Lost

 

Tony wrote:

"And if we consider Frost's definition of metaphor- that it is "saying
one thing in terms of another," language must be metaphor. But for
what?"

 

To experience things, both poet and audience, that they wouldn't be able
to experience otherwise.

Salwa

	----- Original Message ----- 

	From: Tony Demarest <mailto:tonydemarest at hotmail.com>  

	To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu 

	Sent: Saturday, April 25, 2009 3:50 PM

	Subject: RE: [Milton-L] Fetishizing Greatness, was Re: Is
Paradise Lost

	 

	Mallarme said "there is no such thing as prose. . . There is the
alphabet. . . and as long as there is a straining toward style, there is
versification." 

	And if we consider Frost's definition of metaphor- that it is
"saying one thing in terms of another," language must be metaphor. But
for what?

	Tony
	
	> Date: Sat, 25 Apr 2009 16:28:09 -0400
	> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Fetishizing Greatness, was Re: Is
Paradise Lost
	> From: jamesrovira at gmail.com
	> To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
	> 
	> Can you give me a reason to accept this definition, Salwa?
Doesn't it
	> ultimately descend from thinking that would have us ban all
poets from
	> our ideal Republic? If we were to extend our thought along
these
	> lines we might also consider all language as metaphor, and
therefore
	> all language as poetry, and perhaps then we should abandon
either the
	> word "poetry" or "language" as they have become co-extensive.
	> 
	> I think our real options here are "limited" or "rigid" or
"narrow"
	> definitions of the word poetry -- which is what I thought any
	> definition is to begin with -- or no meaningful definition at
all.
	> 
	> Jim R
	> 
	> On Sat, Apr 25, 2009 at 4:20 PM, Salwa Khoddam
<skhoddam at cox.net> wrote:
	> 
	>> Where there's metaphor, there's poetry.
	>> Salwa
	>>
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