By Simon Brittan
Facing poetry is usually tricky for the collage instructor and scholar: even if undergraduates tend to be attentive to discussions approximately drama and prose, poetry usually silences the study room. until a poem offers references simply acceptable to their very own lives, many scholars believe they can not relate to the piece and are stymied. specifically, allegorical poetry produces tensions one of the wish to locate the meanings of the poet's symbolism, the terror of voicing a "wrong" interpretation, and a normal objection to perceived regulations on interpretive freedom. Poetry, image, and Allegory eases that hindrance by means of supplying a old assessment of theories of interpretation as they follow to image and allegory in poetry, thereby reclaiming worthwhile and helpful equipment of studying poems. starting with Plato and Aristotle, Simon Brittan strikes from classical thought to the lesser-known medieval exegetical theories of such notables as Augustine, Aquinas, and Origen; addresses concept relating Renaissance Italy and Dante, English thought of the center a long time, the 16th and 17th centuries, and the Romantic interval; and concludes via weighing the poetry of T. E. Hulme, T. S. Eliot, and Ezra Pound at the better historic scale of literary conception. by means of acknowledging interpretive theories of the prior, Brittan offers a right ancient body of reference within which latest pupil can larger comprehend figurative language in poetry.
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Additional resources for Poetry, Symbol, and Allegory: Interpreting Metaphorical Language from Plato to the Present
But as there are many ways in which things show a likeness to each other, we are not to suppose that what a thing signiWes by similitude in one place it is to be taken to signify in all other places. . The following is an example of the same object being taken, not in opposite, but only in diVerent signiWcations: water denotes people, as we read in Apocalypse, and also the Holy Spirit, as for example, “Out of his belly shall Xow rivers of living water”; and many other things besides water must be interpreted according to the place in which they are found.
Of course, we could point out that any system that tries to exist without such, or similar, limitations will inevitably fall to pieces; or that each of us constantly rejects possible interpretations in the process of everyday discourses—life would be impossible if we did not. But it is also true that, because of the enormous power, both spiritual and temporal, acquired by the Roman Catholic Church until it embraced all of Europe and beyond, what Augustine said about interpretation can be said to have directly affected the lives of everyone living in Christendom.
Symbolic language in Scripture is to be “picked out as food for the nourishment of charity” (Doct. christ. 18) since Scripture “enjoins nothing except charity” (Doct. christ. 15). This, then, is the basis upon which the whole of Augustine’s theory of interpretation is founded. Whoever reads the Bible must recognize, Wrst, what is meant to be read allegorically and what is to be taken solely literally. But without a clearly deWned and regulated code, allegory can be interpreted only in terms familiar to the interpreter—the situations, images, and associations made possible by the circumstances of the interpreter’s own life.
Poetry, Symbol, and Allegory: Interpreting Metaphorical Language from Plato to the Present by Simon Brittan