I just reviewed John Bayley’s Good Companions this morning, but I like this anthology so much I can’t resist quoting from it again. Here’s Bayley on Emily Dickinson:
“A wonderful poet at her best; but, unlike Blake, Emily Dickinson seldom keeps going to the end of what is always a short poem. Philip Larkin observed that her poems sometimes seemed to make a virtue out of collapsing, as if the weight of inspiration could no longer be borne. That is certainly not true of either of these poems [‘Tell All the Truth But Tell It Slant’ and ‘Safe in Their Alabaster Chambers,' both included in Good Companions].”
John Bayley, the former Oxford professor and author of Elegy for Iris (Picador, 1999) www.picadorusa.com, in Good Companions: A Personal Anthology (Little, Brown/Abacus, 2002). www.littlebrown.co.uk.
© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
Flannery O’Connor talked about the purpose of symbols in fiction in the Quote of the Day for March 21, 2007 www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/03/21/. Here the late poet John Ciardi talks about how symbols work in poetry, a description that also applies to other kinds of literature:
” … a symbol is like a rock dropped into a pool: it sends out ripples in all directions, and the ripples are in motion. Who can say where the last ripple disappears? One may have a sense that he at least knows approximately the center point of all those ripples, the point at which the stone struck the water. Yet even then he has trouble marking it precisely. How does one make a mark on water?”
John Ciardi in his classic textbook, How Does a Poem Mean? (Houghton Mifflin, 1959), widely used in high schools and colleges in its day.
(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.