3 responses

  1. Here is something:

    the wind switches
    around my feet
    the puddle grows

    I recently reread the post on plain,figurative, and metaphoric poetry, as well as one comment asking about the connection between metaphoric and allegorical poetry. I think I agree with the commentator that they are indeed the same type, but only the best allegories fir the criteria. I have (partially) read only one allegorical poem that I think deserves that status, which is the Divine Comedy. In most allegories, I think, the tenor is much to obvious to deserve the status of metaphoric, but the Comedia is different. Perhaps the reason you (and perhaps I) favor metaphoric poetry is because it necessarily has a direction. I was wondering if your thoughts have changed on any of those points.

    Some further thoughts: the past few months (years) I have been trying to figure out what makes great poetry. For simplicity’s sake, I cut down the list to three figures: Homer, Dante, and Shakespeare. I think in the Western tradition, great poetry first revels itself in the objective world, but then rises above it into the moral universe. But it never moralizes– it portrays moral relations as objectively and beautifully as it does the natural world. What do you think?


    • That’s an interesting haiku. I’m not quite sure what’s going on, but I like the plainness and directness.

      I had to reread my post on Matephoric Poetry. I still see Allegorical Poetry as doing something different, and for the reasons given in my reply.

      American Heritage defines Allegory as: The representation of abstract ideas or principles by characters, figures, or events in narrative, dramatic, or pictorial form.

      And that’s just not what a Metaphoric Poem does, at least as I recognize it. A Metaphoric Poem might not contain any characters, figures, events presented in a narrative, dramatic or pictorial form, and still be a Metaphoric Poem. However, one couldn’t call a poem Allegorical if all these characteristics are absent. That’s why I would continue to maintain that these are two distinct kinds of poetry. A metaphor is not the same as an allegory. They only seem related because they can both be understood as using A to represent B, but that’s as far as their similarities go. Birches can be read as a Metaphorical Poem, but not as an Allegory.

      As to what makes great poetry? :) That’s what my blog is all about—every post to a certain extent. I agree with your observation as to what commonly separates poetry from great poetry (defined by Keats as Negative Capability) but I don’t think it explains why Keats’s Ode to Autumn is a great poem, since one would have to work mighty hard to find anything like “moral relations” in that poem. I myself tend to focus on the nuts and bolts of writing great poetry rather than the “message” or content, but I do agree with your observation. I suppose, in theory, one could possess a genius for the “art” of poetry but be a moralizing bigot and likewise the next author could “portray moral relations objectively” while being an execrable poet. For some reason, though (and to my knowledge) there’s no example of the former while the latter is almost commonplace. A great story, one might say, but a mediocre writer or poet.

      And I hand our soapbox back to you.


    • I like your distinctions– I see what you mean now. Allegory is indeed distinct from Metaphoric poetry. I concede that “moral relations are indeed not a necessary condition for great poetry, but you got me thinking about that strange absence. The “nuts and bolts” of poetry cannot be doubted as being a necessary condition, though :).

      By the way, what are your thoughts on the psychological portrayal of individuals found in novels? This is a rather specific question so I do not expect an answer, but I can’t help but ask. Ever since thinking about haiku, I find myself thinking of people as surfaces that project upon the world rather than as bookcases that spiral inward infinitely (i.e. psychological postulation).


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