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  #31  
Unread 12-16-2018, 03:32 PM
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Susan, I don't subscribe to a gender-based taboo on critiques.
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  #32  
Unread 12-16-2018, 04:26 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Allen, I am not proposing a taboo on critique. The strike-throughs, though, seem to be going a bit far in a forum called "Musing on Mastery." Would you be as likely to rewrite one of Robert Frost's poems for him? Would you do it in the same way? We can all debate what his poems mean, too, but we don't generally rewrite them.

Susan
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  #33  
Unread 12-16-2018, 05:09 PM
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Susan, you must believe me when I say I certainly would. And also the sometime genius Conrad Aiken. Or Archibald MacLeish. Or Bob Dylan, or so help me, William Butler Yeats or W. H. Auden. Or myself, in retrospect.

Best, Allen

Last edited by Allen Tice; 12-16-2018 at 10:20 PM.
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  #34  
Unread 12-16-2018, 07:41 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Okay, Allen, I can see that trying to rewrite great poems is something you are interested in and that you have solicited changes for poems by Auden and Yeats. It is not to my taste, but I can't speak for others. You did not do any actual strike-throughs on the poems by Auden and Yeats, so when you did on the one by Millay, it stood out as being different. Women are historically more likely to have people rewrite their poems for them (e.g., Dickinson), and I tend to notice when it happens. I disapprove. I also notice that female writers are often not given as much credit for rational thought and argument in their poems as male writers are given. When a reviewer commented that A. E. Stallings's poems had no "philosophy," I was incredulous. He could not see that her philosophy is embedded in the poems, which is, of course, what poets do. Millay does not have to be a religious believer to be able to comment on Biblical themes and motifs and poems by other religious poets, such as Donne.

Tastes in poetry are personal, so there is no right or wrong about what people like. But people don't always see how their comments look to others unless the others tell them. I'm just one reader. Other people will disagree. But honest information about responses is always useful if people are ever going to understand one another better.

Susan
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  #35  
Unread 12-16-2018, 10:11 PM
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Susan, this all takes me back to when I taught college level literature. I have made certain changes to the threads you mention so that they might resemble chalk board session photos from a class. The simple reason that I didn’t do those as-if classroom discussion revisions of the great (Auden and Yeats) then when the threads were first posted, is that I was, shall we say, chickenshit. I definitely include Vincent Millay among the greats. Your point about Dickinson and others is inarguable. On one of those threads someone said approximately that We have to take the weak parts with the best parts with author so-and-so. That’s not necessarily so. Editors and critics have been cherry picking quotes from poets ever since “On the Sublime” by Pseudo-Longinus 2,000 years ago, and that guy (or woman?), Pseudo-Longinus, saved a great fragment by Sappho that we would not have otherwise.
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  #36  
Unread 12-16-2018, 10:45 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Allen, I too think that there are weak parts in many of Millay's poems, and that the same is true for most great writers. However, it isn't really possible to "correct" poems that are never going to change, and not everyone would agree on what needs correcting anyway. So I agree with the idea that we have to accept writers (and their poems) as they are and not as we wish they were. Both the weaknesses and the strengths are part of who they are. Sometimes their weaknesses (psychologically or in terms of the choices they make) are tied to their strengths in ways that we can't fully know. That's why I prefer the question "What is the writer saying?" to "What is wrong with what the writer is saying and how she is saying it?" Neither question has a definitive answer, but I get further with the former one.

Susan
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  #37  
Unread 12-16-2018, 10:49 PM
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Susan, we can agree. Both questions are important. Both are, to me, essential.

Allen
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  #38  
Unread 01-16-2019, 06:59 PM
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I would rewrite one line of Frost's: "When I see birches bent to left or right." With Millay's poem, I find the first line nothing if not ironic and a clear statement that the poem is a sonnet about the sonnet. Millay's biography shows that she dealt with (and sometime dealt out) a lot of personal chaos. My continual problem with her is that her emotional content often seems at odds with the tradition of the sonnet and its past language. A lot of her charm, though, is how she can be so thoroughly modern Millay while trying to work things into a form bound with whalebone stays. She often succeeds.

Last edited by R. S. Gwynn; 02-12-2019 at 02:53 PM.
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  #39  
Unread 02-06-2019, 10:25 AM
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In haste, I want to call renewed attention to my change of heart on the rhyme words and my presumptuous “edit” in post # 27. If I’m right, her poem was a bold statement of a possible type of adult feminine lust that she sought to redeem by calling it “pious” and framing it as a literary trope. Bold indeed. If I’m right. But it seems to have been a literary “lust in the heart” — and not visibly acted on. A type of extreme “sovranty”, and, as someone says, what man would refuse when a woman woos? Well, Joseph in the Biblical story in Egypt did, they say. Which brings up the matter of power relationships in intimate personal relationships. Even so, I’m going to retain “jape,” and let this thread slide down, if everyone else will.
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  #40  
Unread 02-12-2019, 02:56 PM
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"Ravish" (Donne) and "rape" (Millay) were synonyms at one time, but the latter is heavily freighted in contemporary speech. See St. Teresa of Avila.
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