FIGURES OF THOUGHT: Speculations on the Meaning of Poetry and Other Essays by Howard Nemerov

FIGURES OF THOUGHT: Speculations on the Meaning of Poetry and Other Essays

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Metaphor is an exception caught becoming a rule."" Aphoristic, usually subtle, always graceful, Nemerov's essays can be very pleasurable. He is able to see ""the power of poetry to be more a mind than a thought."" Inside Harold Bloom's baroque critical ark, Nemerov finds ""sometimes nothing but ellipsis, all beads and no string."" He remarks agilely upon the relationship of poetry and painting. And in essays on Finnegans Wake and on the teaching of poetry he argues for a pedagogical method that emphasizes the strange: ""The saying as clear as you can make it--for that is your duty and your gift--; the meaning as mysterious as may be. For the universe is so."" Nemerov firmly believes that the poem serves as a repository for knowledge or wisdom--his essay on Dante's Commedia is backlit by this assumption--and toward poetic modes that differ in philosophy, he has an oh-come-now disdain, which leads him, for instance, to badly misread William Carlos Williams and instead fasten caustically upon some of Williams' feebler critics. But in his role of defender of the argumentative, dialectical poem, Nemerov the essayist is cogent and clear.

Pub Date: Feb. 23rd, 1978
Publisher: Godine