[ilds] John Press on Durrell's poem

william godshalk godshawl at email.uc.edu
Wed Sep 19 11:31:21 PDT 2007

Charlie cites John Press:

Press, pp. 178-179, comments briefly on our poem. First Press 
comments on Eliot's use of imagery "to evoke the desired mood in 
their readers. A comparatively simple example of the way a poet 
flicks from one image to another occurs in Lawrence Durrell's 
'Journal in Paris.' . . . We are clearly not meant to dwell on any 
one of these feverish images, whose purpose is to convey the 
insecurity and anxiety of the diarist. This rapid switching from one 
jagged image to the next is in marked contrast to the technique 
employed by Dylan Thomas . . . ."

If we are "clearly not meant to dwell on any one of these feverish 
images," we have really gone wrong here. But I see Press covering for 
himself. He's really saying, "I can't put these images together into 
a meaningful narrative, therefore I'm clearly not supposed to." As an 
academic I've seen this flimflam over and over again.

It seems to me that any  poem is a puzzle. Well maybe not "cold beer 
/ sold here," the great American poem. But from Homer to the present, 
poems have needed to be interpreted, puzzled out. And some times it 
takes a very long time to figure out what a poem means.

W. L. Godshalk		*
Department of English         *
University of Cincinnati            Stellar disorder  *
Cincinnati OH 45221-0069      *

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