Tag Archives: poetry

It’s not awkward until someone says it’s awkward (The Beast in the Jungle)

It was in the way the autumn day looked into the high windows as it wanted; in the way the red light, breaking at the close from under a low, sombre, sky, reached out in a long shaft and played over old wainscots, old tapestry, old gold, old colour (447).

The thing to be, with the one person who knew, was easy and natural -to make the reference rather than be seeming to avoid it, to avoid it rather than be seeming to make it, and to keep it, in any case, familiar, facetious even, rather than pedantic and portentous (458).

Notes: What is it that he told her? I’m really intrigued. A lot of poetic devices have been used.

Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle”, in Major Stories and Essays (First Library of America College Edition, Fall 1999), 447-458

Poetry as a language

To intimate things rather than state them plainly was thus one of the primary aims of Symbolism. (…) The assumptions which underlay Symbolism lead us to formulate some such doctrine as the following : Every feeling or sensation we have, every moment of consciousness, is different from every other ; and it is, in consequence, impossible to render our sensations as we actually experience them through the conventional and universal language of ordinary literature. Each poet has his unique personality ; each of his moments has its special tone, its special combination of elements. And it is the poet’s task to find, to invent, the special language which will alone be capable of expressing his personality and feelings. Such a language must make use of symbols : what is so special, so fleeting and so vague cannot be conveyed by direct statement or description, but only by a succession of words, of images, which will serve to suggest it to the reader.

(…) And Symbolism may be defined as an attempt by carefully studied means – a complicated association of ideas represented by a medley of metaphors – to communicate unique personal feelings.

Edmund Wilson, in Axel’s Castle, A study of the imaginative literature of 1870-1930, Farrar, Straus and Giroux Editions, p18-19

Symbolism in poetry

It was the tendency of Symbolism (…) to make poetry even more a matter of the sensations and emotions of the individual than had been the case with Romanticism : (…) making poetry so much a private concern of the poet’s that it turned out to be incommunicable to the reader.

Edmund Wilson, in A study of the imaginative literature of 1870-1930, Farrar, Straus and Giroux Editions, p17