Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Are there inchoate poems existent prior to the writing of poems?

Andrew Cecil Bradley suggests that there are.  "Poetry for Poetry's Sake" in A Modern Book of Esthetics:  An Anthology  ed. Meldvin Rader, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1952.  This material is originally from Oxford Lectures on Poetry, The Macmillan Co., 1909.  Bradley believes that "The Fall of Man...offers opportunities of poetic effects wider in range and more penetrating in appeal [than a pin's head]."  He further says "And the fact is that such a subject, as it exists in the general imagination, has some esthetic value before the poet touches it.  It is, as you may choose to call it, an inchoate poem or the debris of a poem.  It is not an abstract idea or a bare isolated fact, but an assemblage of figures, scenes, actions, and events, which already appeal to emotional imagination, and it is already in some degree organized and formed."  (342)    He also says that a good poem on a pin's head "might revolutionize its subject so completely that we should say, 'The subject may be a pin's head, but the substance of the poem has very little to do with it."  (342)  

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