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Additional info for 20TH CENTURY POETRY:TEXT CL (Interface)
Or it might be someone who thinks they are less well-equipped to handle poetry. In the United States teachers talk of students whose brains shut down at the prospect of a calculus problem as suffering ‘math anxiety’. Something very similar seems to afflict many people, of all ages, 34 Michael Toolan when confronted with a poem: desperate to retrieve the message, to be able to ‘see what the poem is about’, they scan the text in search of a continuous thread of argument about a major topic. Often, no such thread of sense presents itself and, disappointed and resigned, such readers give up on poems and poetry as things which they themselves could never cope with (as distinct from coping with the surrogate readings provided by literary criticism).
We do not need to search far for such putative puns: in line 13 of this section reference is made, in support of the idea that even the finest people or things are flawed and may need to be brought down, to ‘classic falls’. Here the allusion seems to be not merely to the tragic end of so many of the heroes of the classical period of Greece and Rome, nor the falls of those heroes remembranced in Europe’s classic works of art. In addition, the again-ironical demotic use (that great leveller, that bringer-low) of classic, to mean ‘perfect or ideal in its dysfunctionality’, seems to shadow the line.
One tangible way of seeing linguistic choice in action is to compare carefully different versions of the same text. Below is the normally published version of ‘The Tyger’ by William Blake, followed by another version (actually an amalgam from a number of different drafts which Blake produced before settling on the final version). Carefully chart the differences between the two versions (noting that choices at one linguistic level (for example, lexis) might have knock-on consequences at other levels (for example, phonetics – cf.
20TH CENTURY POETRY:TEXT CL (Interface) by Verdonk