I said in a previous post that I liked reading about poetry. I was thinking of long ago undergraduate English classes. I got some criticism books on the poets and started looking thru them. And what I discovered is that I’m no longer fond of reading what other people say I should see in the poems. I thought the criticism would be a short cut to the paintings but instead there’s not much there for me.
Eliot said” The whole interest of the process is in getting your own meaning out of it” Caroline Behr, T.S. Eliot: A Chronology of his Life and Works (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1983) 66 And ” I want my readers to get their impressions from the works alone and from nothing else. T.S. Eliot, Invention of the March Hare:poems 1909-1917, ed. Christopher Ricks (New York; Harcourt Brace and Co. 1996) xix. He also wrote that ” a good poem should have a potentiality of evoking feelings and associations in the reader of which the author is wholly ignorant. I am rather inclined to believe, for myself, that my best poems are possibly those which evoke the greatest number and variety of interpretations surprising to myself” (these quotes were found in the first chapter of Reading and Interpreting the Works of T.S. Eliot by Naomi Pasachoff, Enslow Publishing, 2017)
This reminds me of a discussion in an undergraduate painting class about conveying meaning in painting. Did we want the viewer to see a specific meaning or to leave the painting open ended for multiple interpretations? My painting professor asked whether we would be ok to run the risk of someone misinterpreting our work. And the consensus in class was it was ok, that if one sees something and can explain why then that is fine even if the artist did not intend that. I had a caveat in that by creating images a certain way, that I was creating boundaries for that meaning. If I painted an apple and someone thought it meant a pear (trite and silly example but hopefully you get the idea) then that is beyond the parameters I had set up by painting an apple and not a pear.
And so, the books go back to the library. Maybe the whole point was for me to discover the quotes by Eliot. In any case, it has been a very long time that I have done a poetic dissection and is not necessary for me now. The poems I have chosen have personal meaning for me and that is enough.
The painting on the left is from the 4 Quartets suite called Still Point and the one on the right is in progress and is call Gyre(?) both are 12″ x 12″ Still Point needs some sprucing up and Gyre is drying some more.