Spent some more time over the sultry weekend with Stephen Prickett's dazzling book (Words and The Word) mentioned a couple days ago.
He's getting into the relation between Romantic & Victorian poetry, & the 19th-cent. movement toward cultural centrality of prose fiction & realist novel.
He does this in terms of the paradoxes & problems of Biblical translation, & the enormous impact, on British poetics & romantic poetry in general, of Bishop Lowth's studies of Hebrew poetry in the 18th cent.
Sounds rather abstruse, I guess. But it's not. His focus is on Wordworth, Blake, GM Hopkins, & esp. Coleridge. Tied into a remarkable reading-back of the various translations of the story of Elijah's encounter with the "still small voice" in the cave. (I have a little old poem along that line, which I will post here later.)
Coleridge's emphasis on the power of the imagination-intelligence to shape perception; of human language as a "subordinate logos" of the (divine) "communicative act" which is Nature itself; & the corollary - the necessity for imaginative participation (re-making) in any reading.
How the trinitarian formula of transcendent Logos united with incarnate person contains a logical paradox (like the "set of sets which contains itself", or however it goes : the infinite God appearing inside "his" own finite creation). (Prickett illustrates with the Saul Steinberg sketch (taken from Escher?) of the two hands, holding pens, sketching each other.) And how any literary representation of reality comes up against a similar paradox.
The prose realists evaded these paradoxes by simplifying the problem of representation. The stories are cast in a form of (desacralized) "objectivity" which reifies the world. (cf. George Eliot's humanist recasting of religion via Feuerbach.)
I thought I noticed faint echoes of some of these issues in Ron Silliman's latest attack on "School of Quietude" representational poetry (remarks on Clark Coolidge, etc.). He sets up a false dichotomy and a false choice between representational and non-representational poetries. If we inhabit some form of Coleridge/Hopkins "communicative cosmos" - within which particular things in nature speak their meaning or Adamic name - then the basic motive of poetry-making - whether "abstract" or representative-narrative - will be to communicate.
When I was working on the long poem, I thought of it as anti-prose, anti-novel. The ghost-shaman Bluejay mixes in with real places & local history. Stubborn Grew narrates the crisis-collapse of its own narrator. I think I have always been aligned with Coleridge & Blake - that there is some mission for poetry which merges with religion & the sacred. Breaks through aesthetic & cultural categories.
sorry, I'm really rambling this morning. back to work...