Following the discussion of poetry-&-paraphrase from Jonathan, Kasey et al.

I guess I would question whether this is an either-or thing. Why can't a poem have meanings, which can be extrapolated from the poem, & yet retain its integrity & quiddity or whatever as an artistic end-in-itself? The sum is greater or different than its parts - the meanings are abstracted from the poem after all. But these meanings are also evidence of the poem's generative capacities.

Imagine the geometry of a poem as being like a "vesica" - the lens-like shape formed by the intersection of two circles. The shape has integrity despite the fact that it draws from two different figures, two different directions.

I sometimes think that the power of poems has something to do with the compression of meaning into parable. "Telling it slant" (E. Dickinson). You read a 3-line haiku and you experience the pleasure of a whole array of possible meanings, at once. Riddles work in a similar way.

"Paraphraseable meaning" is such a boring way of putting it. The negative connotations stem from the concept's origin in the New Criticism, which was built on a rejection of overt, politicized, didactic poetries of the 1930s (in this it was in line with much 50's art in the US). "The poem must not mean / but be" & all that crap (Archibald MacLeish).

Poets work in such a variety of ways that there is, obviously, no correct method. Negative capability & the passive reception of imaginative expressions & forms is a huge part of the process. However, to deny the importance of "meaning" - & its symbiotic dualities & energies at work in the poem - seems like the kind of rubric which makes a lot of postmodern poetry pretty vacuous & turgid.

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