Tag Archives: shelley

Very Similar Unique Ideas

I will be honest and say that most of this reading went completely over my head. Maybe I was just tired and therefore incapable of comprehending what it was that I was reading, or maybe I could be wide awake and still not understand what was going on. In any case, I think that at one point Adorno was saying that the universality of poetry comes from writing about something that has not already been written.

This relates to Shelley in that Shelley believed the very inception of poetry in one’s mind was where the real poetry was. So Adorno (from my understanding) believes that poetry’s universality comes from something written for the first time, so it therefore applies to everyone since there is nothing out there like that particular poem yet; and Shelley believes poetry is the initial original thought, and once it’s written it is less poetic. They both seem to think that as long as the poem is truly original and unique, then it is true poetry. (But I could be totally wrong.)

Since both their ideas seem so similar to each other…would their ideas count as poetry? Or would only whoever wrote their idea of poetry down first be considered the poet?

 

Adorno, Theodor W. “On Lyric Poetry and Society.” Notes to Literature. Ed. Rolf Tiedemann. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991. 46. Print.

Shelley, Percy Bysshe. “A Defence of Poetry” The Critical Tradition. Ed. David Richter. New York: Bedford/St. Martin, 2007. 358. Print.

Adorno, Shelley, and Universality

Both Adorno and Shelley play with the concept of there being a universality in poetry where a poet is able to represent these sort of opposing forces without explicitly defending one force or the other. However in Adorno’s case, he argues that it is possible for lyric poetry to be more compelling for one side even when its inverse is being spoken for or supported. He uses examples from Baudelaire’s works, such as a poem about a servant woman, to show how works of literature can speak more profoundly or truer to its unintended audience than to the actual subject of the work. To reiterate this, Adorno writes that “when individual expression. . . seems shaken to its very core in the crisis of the individual, the collective undercurrent in the lyric surfaces in the most diverse places” (46). While it may appear that a poet is emphasizing one particular part of life, he is actually  inviting the reader to absorb his words more deeply to see that he is trying to communicate a larger social statement. It isn’t what’s in the lyric poems, it’s what has been purposefully left out. In Shelley’s explanation, “[poet’s] exertions are of the highest value so long as they confine their administration of the concerns of the inferior powers of our nature within the limits due to the superior ones” (358). Due to the restrictions of the “superior” forces at work, a great poet structures his writing so that the “inferior concerns” are implicitly addressed. Although it may not be obviously stated or although it may seem as though he is appealing only to the superior, the poet has the unique ability to subscribe to both.

 

 

 

Adorno, Theodor W. “On Lyric Poetry and Society.” Notes to Literature. Ed. Rolf Tiedemann. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991. 46. Print.

Shelley, Percy Bysshe. “A Defence of Poetry” The Critical Tradition. Ed. David Richter. New York: Bedford/St. Martin, 2007. 358. Print.

The Infinite Poet

“A Poet, as he is the author to others of the highest wisdom, pleasure, virtue and glory, so he ought personally to be the happiest, the best, the wisest, and the most illustrious of men. As to his glory, let Time be challenged to declare whether the fame of any other institutor of human life be comparable to that of a poet” (361).

Poets are the most inspiring and memorable people to exist. The most iconic paintings will always be remembered through our eyes as they are forever referenced. Likewise, poetry is forever recited and while there are those who do not care enough to offer an opinion on a painting, the words of a poem affect us more still. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what does it mean when a poem leaves us speechless? As long as we record and remember history, poetry will live forever– additionally insured by the upsurge of social media. At a certain level, no other art form has changed the course of history the way poetry has. The fiercest, most heartbroken and angry change makers singe us with their words. I think of the Civil Rights poets and storytellers such as Langston Hughes, WEB Dubois, Maya Angelou, the Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish, Martin Niemoller’s Holocaust poem “First they came . . . ,” Carolyn Forche,  and beyond these names are the other legendary Frost, Dickinson, Wilde, Yeats, Cummings, Whitman, Ginsberg, so on and so forth.

So a painter helped usher in a new era of painting styles and was lambasted and ridiculed and died poor, only to be remembered and heralded after her death. Or remember the black musicians who were the first ever to headline a show or perform with an all white band for an all white crowd, but soak into the lives of the poets who wrote honestly and realize the impacts they made.

 

Shelley, Percy B. “A Defence of Poetry.” The Critical Tradition: Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends. Ed. David H. Richter. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007. 361. Print.

From A Defence of Poetry

“Sorrow, terror, anguish, despair itself are often the chosen expressions of an approximation in the highest good. Our sympathy in tragic fiction depends on this principle; tragedy delights by affording a shadow of the pleasure which exists in pain. This is the source alslo of the melancholy which is inseparable from the sweetest melody. The pleasure that is in sorrow is sweeter than the pleasure of pleasure itself … The exertions of Locke, Hume, Gibbon, Voltaire, Rousseau, and their disciples, in favour of opressed and deluded humanity, are entitled to the gratitude of mankind.”

 

Shelley, Percy B. “A Defence of Poetry.” The Critical Tradition: Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends. By David H. Richter. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007. 359. Print.