MUSINGS ON STYLE AND TRUTH

Does a poem mean?
We studied Ciardi’s How Does a Poem Mean? in college
I don’t think Ciardi gets it
“Have you ever felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?”
Whitman asks in futility of our post-modern age
I’m tired of Wallace Stevens
THE MAN WITH THE BLUE GUITAR never meant a word to me
I tried and gave up trying and now I don’t care
Precious language, specious language, and that’s about it
I want meaning in a poem more than precious language
And Plato cleaved art from truth and made much of propositions
Though his dialogues read like stories and some have myths
My English professor almost omitted Robert Frost
From his Modern American Poetry course due to Frost having “subjects”
Let alone rhyme and rhythm beats and feet, like Blake’s Tyger
It wasn’t all that long ago that Percy Bysshe Shelley
In EPIPSYCHIDION or MONT BLANC: LINES
Imaged more than meant, or imaged as meaning
And it is late, and I am old, and the time and my age are making me cranky
Maybe it’s too much to say I don’t care about Stevens
I get Jackson Pollock, but own an expensive Andrew Wyeth print
I read Stevens, but I like Robert Frost
Time was, language communicated
Truth was told, wisdom was passed down to generations
Story was religion, and verse, prophesy
And art was more than style and originality,
Poetry more than precious word choice
But it’s late, and I’m getting tired and old
I still care how a poem means
I may be going the way of rhyme and rhythm, beats and feet
But it’s nice and sweet not to have to like Wallace Stevens anymore

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