[Humanist] 24.203 how sweetly tweet

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sun Jul 18 21:57:05 CEST 2010

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 203.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Sat, 17 Jul 2010 14:44:54 -0700
        From: Jascha Kessler <urim.urim at gmail.com>
        Subject: re W McC's posting, as of 17 July

Dear Willard,

I have just published online a long essay, at www.eclectica.com.  It may not
directly or clearly answer you questions, which are valid, and seem to be
reflections on my remarks that make sense [except that when I say "poetry" I
do not say "X."  When I say "poem," I am saying X, which is relevant.  The
essay, REASONING UNREASON, is perhaps tangential to this thread.  I hope
squabbling is not one of the effects, side, or blowback, of my questions.  I
dont your personal email address, or would post to it, so for your
convenience I attach a pdf here, which I just prepared last night.  I wrote
"perhaps tangential.."  I trust it can at least divert you for an hour or
less?  I will say again, a poem is a poem is a poem, whether uttered, or
sung, or chanted viva voce, or digitally recorded and reproduced on paper,
from a recorded set of 0/1s, whathaveyou.  But whether such an object is
poetry is the question that leads 99.99% into confusion.  That is my
reference to THE SYMPOSIUM, and the root term, *poein.  To make, or create.
 The God, Eros, is that "force."  But poem is recent term.  Here is the
current OED, for your convenience.  Towards the end, some divine insisted
the God had to be in it...*


Also 6–7 poeme.

[a. F. poème (in Oresme 14th c.), ad. L. poēma (in Plautus), a. Gr. πόηµα
(4th c. b.c.), early variant of ποίηµα, thing made or created, work,
fiction, poetical work, f. ποιεῖν (early variant ποεῖν) to make. (If ποίηµα
had been the form introduced, the L. would have been pœēma.)
   The word poem was app. not in use till about the middle of the 16th c.;
the sense was previously, from 14th c., expressed by poesy, sense 2.]

1. a.1.a ‘The work of a poet, a metrical composition’ (Johnson); ‘a work in
verse’ (Littré); a composition of words expressing facts, thoughts, or
feelings in poetical form; a piece of poetry.
   In addition to the metrical or verse form, critics have generally held
that in order to deserve the name of ‘poem’, the theme and its treatment
must possess qualities which raise it above the level of ordinary prose. Cf.
quots. 1575, 1689, 1841, and see poetry.

   1548 Elyot Dict., Poema‥a poetes inuencion, a poeme [ed. 1538 Poema‥a
poetes warke].    1568 T. Howell (title) The Arbor of Amitie; wherin is
comprised pleasant Poems and pretie Poesies.    1575 Gascoigne Notes Eng.
Verse §1 in Steele Glas, etc. (Arb.) 31 The first and most necessarie
poynt‥meete to be considered in making of a delectable poeme is this, to
ground it upon some fine inuention.    1581 Sidney Apol. Poetrie (Arb.) 23
And may not I‥say that the holy Dauids Psalmes are a diuine Poem?    1636 B.
Jonson Discov. Wks. 1641 II. 126 Even one alone verse sometimes makes a
perfect Poeme.    Ibid., These three voices differ, as the thing done, the
doing, and the doer; the thing fain'd, the faining and the fainer; so the
Poeme, the Poesy, and the Poet.    1689–90 Temple Ess. Poetry Wks. 1731 I.
236 The Frame and Fabrick of a true Poem, must have something both sublime
and just, amazing and agreeable.    ― Ess. Learning Ibid. I. 298 The
Language is but the Colouring; 'tis the Conception, the Invention, the
Judgment, that give the Life and Spirit, as well as Beauty and Force, to a
Poem.    1706 Phillips, Poem, a Piece of Poetry, a Composition in Verse, a
Copy of Verses.    1736 Sheridan in Swift's Lett. (1768) IV. 181, I have
written a little pretty birth-day poem against St. Andrew's day, which‥I
intend for Faulkner to publish.    1828 Whately in Encycl. Metrop. I. 290/1
Any composition in verse, (and none that is not,) is always called, whether
good or bad, a Poem, by all who have no favourite hypothesis to maintain.
 1841–4 Emerson Ess., Poet Wks. (Bohn) I. 157 It is not metres, but a
metre-making argument, that makes a poem.    1871 B. Taylor Faust (1875) I.
Notes 319 Everything in this poem is perfect, thought and expression,
Rhythm; but one thing it lacks: 'tis not a poem at all.

b.1.b transf. (or in more general sense): Applied to a composition which,
without the form, has some quality or qualities in common with poetry.

   1581 Sidney Apol. Poetrie (Arb.) 28 Xenophon, who did imitate so
excellently‥the portraiture of a iust Empire vnder the name of Cyrus, (as
Cicero sayth of him) made therein an absolute heroicall Poem.    1873 Ruskin
Fors Clav. III. xxxiv. 6 Do you know what a play is? or what a poem is? or
what a novel is?‥ You had better first, for clearness' sake, call all the
three ‘poems’, for all the three are so, when they are good, whether written
in verse or prose.

2.2 fig. Something (other than a composition of words) of a nature or
quality akin or likened to that of poetry (with various implications, as
artistic or orderly structure, noble expression, ideal beauty or
gracefulness, etc.).

   1642 Milton Apol. Smect. Wks. 1851 III. 270 He who would not be frustrate
of his hope to write well hereafter in laudable things, ought him selfe to
be a true Poem, that is a composition and patterne of the best and
honourablest things.    1678 Cudworth Intell. Syst. i. iv. 421 There being
as much continued and coherent Sence‥in this Real Poem of the World, as
there is in any Phantastick Poem made by men.    1843 Kingsley Lett. (1878)
I. 108 We shall have no need to write poetry—our life will be a real poem.
 1856 Emerson Eng. Traits, Race Wks. (Bohn) II. 24 The Celts‥gave to the
seas and mountains names which are poems, and imitate the pure voices of
nature.    1899 W. R. Inge Chr. Mysticism 47 The world is the poem of the
Word to the glory of the Father.

Jascha Kessler
Professor of English & Modern Literature, UCLA
Telephone/Facsimile: 310.393.4648

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