13 jul. 2004

Versification: "In my view, the major roadblock to our attempts to value verse form lies in the common claim that poetry is primarily referential in intent--that, like prose and drama, it primarily elaborates fictional speakers, listeners, speeches, and verisimilar scenes to which we (emotionally, intellectually, perceptually) respond. With this view of poetry, verse form is valued mainly for (what we might call) its rhetorical effect. Like the well-constructed argument, the articulate vocabulary, and the clear and precise phrasing of a piece of competent expository prose, verse form in this view gives us a more concentrated, less encumbered, more precisely articulated, and therefore more engaging meaning. As this is usually articulated in discussions of the functions of poetic rhythm, verse form links, supports, frames, highlights, sharpens, elaborates, and in all of these ways, offers to the reader a meaning that is basically expressed in other terms (e.g., by our imaginative reconstruction of a fictional scene and the meanings presented by the fictional speech that occurs within that fictional scene). In this view, if poetry is not paraphrasable without a loss of its primary values, it is because the rhetorical effects of verse form are so concentrated and so highly elaborated that any removal of them impoverishes the fictional representation to the point that it is no longer a significant literary experience."