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An Introduction to Introduction to Poetry

As part of our (frankly non-existent) poetry unit, our English class chose a poem to either analyze or recite. It’s our first and final poetry assignment. Yes, the entire unit lasts a week. Anywho, not being a literary person myself, I chose the traditional method: recitation.

What poem? Well, our only options came from this site, Poetry in Voice. (I think it’s part of a communist conspiracy between teachers to create a fake monopoly on poems.) The first poem I chose/am choosing is entitled ‘Introduction to Poetry’. Click on that link to read it (it’s literally a hundred words long).

There’s a second poem I’m choosing as a backup in case anybody recites this first, and I’ll talk about its overanalysis in tomorrow’s essay. But today, I’d like to ask: what do you guys think about poetic analysis?

This poem is ironic in itself: it cautions against overanalysis, yet people are still overanalyzing it. For example, this first guest analysis is simply wonderful. Thank god we have Google to let me understand how “the American world failed, so his culture. America is now melting or returning to his mother europe to cry together, those days.”

(Really, that comment is worth a read. I think it might be a copypasta, though.)

But really, come on. Six pages of analysis. The prime suspect of overanalysis is lengthiness; poetry majors just don’t understand brevity! Consider said link’s first page. A terse summary could be: “Collins teaches poetry reading. Every line begins with a different word.”

Consider this analysis. Poetry analysis isn’t actually deep. It’s trying to flesh out the simplest concepts as tortuously as possible. What did you think when you read the poem? You thought, “Wow, this guy really is frustrated with his students’ overanalysis.” That’s all the link above writes, but with a thousand more words.

What would happen with briefer poetic analysis? Or less nitpicky ones (sometimes, alliteration and assonance are accidental, as in all my articles)?

On one hand, we have this attitude. On the other hand, prose is shorter than verse, and thus, poets actually do have to mull over every single word! But does that mean every single word has meaning?

Twitter shows that the opinions on this run the gamut, and I guess it’s a fitting (no, not really) topic to reignite O-New’s lagging literary impact. Thoughts?

P.S. Obligatory f-bomb-laced video with the same poem title.

8 responses

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  2. Free-Typing Spirit.

    I also find that poem analysis, and for the most part literary analysis in general is a bunch of frauds getting together and trying to make themselves feel special. They seem to mistake making things up, or pulling things out of their rear end, for cleverness.

    Poetry and literature in general is supposed to be either informative, or enjoyable to read. Analyzing it tends to kill both aspects because you start making imaginary connections and making it completely unenjoyable (unless to those who like to be apart of the snob club). At most, I think the most analysis you could need would be if it is an older/foreign work and you could understand more with some background knowledge. Otherwise just talk about points you liked/didn’t like and don’t try to make the EVERY SINGLE work some allegory for life/sex/whatever. >_<

    Makes me a little angry when English profs will ruin perfectly good short stories by trying to make all kinds of stupid connections in them, even when you can provide easy counter-arguments that make the connections unlikely.

    2013/03/05 at 19:11

  3. Usually i think that an analysis of many things tends to inadvertently draw conclusions out of thin air. I always felt that analysing poetry was more of an exercise in interpretation rather than what the author was trying to tell through some hidden imagery and connotation. However although i agree with Free-Typing Spirit’s opinion. Poetry analysis can be really fun if it was taken with a grain of salt.

    2013/03/05 at 23:44

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  5. Most groups in life is actually a circlejerk to those not in the circle: conspiracy theories, politics, religion, music, school life, aniblogging. Sometimes, when I feel like that, I wonder whether we’re right (their snobberies are meaningless) or we just don’t ‘understand’ their arcana.

    It’s even worse when you realize just how early we’re taught to analyze literature, as if it’s more important than enjoying it. Remember how, from elementary, teachers forced you to find ‘connections’ even in picture books?!

    sorry for late response i was dead

    2013/03/31 at 23:11

  6. Hmmm… that’s true too. I guess ‘analysis’ and ‘interpretation’ are so different (in my head) that I didn’t notice their analyses were just their interpretations…

    …which means that the whole point of this post was actually about… people not being succinct enough? Not being clear enough in exhibiting their opinions?

    2013/03/31 at 23:14

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