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This Craft of Verse by Jorge Luis Borges. Following are the six lectures that
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Jorge Luis Borges delivered at Harvard University in the fall of 1967 and the
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spring of 1968. Born in 1899, he was by this time almost completely blind and
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thus addressed his audience without the aid of written notes. He learned his
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fluent English from his paternal grandmother, who had come to Buenos Aires
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from Staffordshire. His mother, a translator, and his father, a professor of
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psychology and modern languages, also knew English. These recordings, only
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lately rediscovered in the Harvard University archives, testify to his love
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of the language as well as his wit, erudition, and remarkable literary
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sensibility. Borges died in 1986.
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Lecture 1. The Riddle of Poetry. Ladies and gentlemen, I feel quite overwhelmed
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by the very generous injustice of Juan Marichal, but at the outset I would like
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to give you a fair warning of what to expect, or rather of what not to expect
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from me. I find that I have made a slip in the very title of my first lecture.
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The title is, if I have not mistaken, "The Riddle of Poetry," and the stress, of
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course, is on the first word, the word "riddle." So that you may think that the
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riddle is all-important, or what might still be worse, you may think that I have
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deluded myself into believing that I have somehow discovered the true reading
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of the riddle. The truth is that I have no revelations to offer. I have spent my
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life reading, analyzing, writing, or trying my hand at writing, and enjoying.
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This is the most important thing of all, drinking in poetry, and I have come to no
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final conclusion about it. Indeed, every time I am faced with a blank page, I feel
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that I have to rediscover literature for myself, that the past is of no avail,
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whatever, to me. So, as I have said, I have only my perplexities to offer you. I am
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nearing 70. I have given the major part of my life to literature, and I can only
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offer you doubts. The great English writer and dreamer Thomas de Quincy wrote,
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in some of the thousands of pages of his 14 volumes, that to discover a new
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problem was quite as important as to discovering the solution of an old one.
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But I cannot even offer you that. I can only offer you time-honored perplexities.
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And yet, why need I worry about that? What is the history of philosophy but a
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history of the perplexities of the Hindus, of the Chinese, of the Greeks, of
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the schoolmen, of Bishop Berkeley, of Hume, of Schopenhauer, and so on? I merely
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wish to share those perplexities with you. I have dipped into books of aesthetics,
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but I had an uncomfortable feeling that I was reading the works of astronomers
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who had never looked at the stars. I mean that they were writing about poetry as
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if poetry were a task and not, as it really is, a passion and a joy. For
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example, I have read with great respect Benedito Croce's book on aesthetics, and
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I have been handed the definition that poetry and language are an expression.
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Now, if we think of an expression of something, then we are landed back into
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the old problem of form and matter. And if we think about the expression of
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nothing in particular, that gives us really nothing. So that we receive
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respectfully that definition, and then we go on to something else. We go on to
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poetry. We go on to life, and life is, I am sure, made of poetry. Poetry is not
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alien. Poetry is, as we shall see, lurking around the corner. It may spring on us at
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any moment. Now, we are apt to fall into a common confusion. We think, for
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example, that if we study Homer or the Divine Comedy or Fray Luis de Leon or
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Macbeth, we are studying poetry. But books are only occasions for the poetry. I
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think Emerson wrote somewhere that a library is a kind of magic cabinet. It is
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full of dead men, but those dead men can be brought, can be reborn, can be brought
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into life when you open their pages. I spoke a few minutes ago of Bishop Barclay.
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Barclay, who may remind you, was a prophet of the greatness of America. And Barclay
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wrote that the taste of the apple is neither in the apple itself—the apple
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cannot taste itself—nor in the mouth of the eater. It requires a contact between
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them. The same thing happens to a book or to a collection of books, to a library.
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What is a book in itself? A book is a physical object in a world of physical
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objects. It is a set of dead symbols. And then the reader, the right reader, comes
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along and the words, or rather the poetry behind the words, for the words
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themselves are mere symbols, spring into life and we have a resurrection of the
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world. And I am reminded now of a poem that you all know by heart, and perhaps
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you may never have noticed how strange it is. For perfect things in poetry do
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not seem strange, they seem inevitable. And so we hardly thank the writer for
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his pains. I am thinking of a sonnet written more than a hundred years ago by
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a young man in London, in Hampstead, I think, a young man who died of lung
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disease, John Keats, and of his famous and perhaps hackneyed sonnet, "On First
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Looking into Chapman's Homer." Now, what is strange about that poem, and I only
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thought about it three or four days ago when I was pondering over my lecture, is
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the fact that it is a poem written on the poetic experience itself. You know it
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by heart, and yet I would like you to hear once more the surge and thunder of
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its lines, of its final lines. "Then felt I like some watcher of the skies when a
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new planet swims into his skin, or like stout Cortes when with eager eyes he
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stared on the Pacific, and all his men looked at each other with a wild surmise,
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silent upon a peak in Darien." So here we have the poetic experience itself. We
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have Chapman, George Chapman, the friend and rival of Shakespeare, being dead and
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suddenly coming into life, suddenly coming back into life when John Keats
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read his "Iliads" or his "Odysseys." I think it was of George Chapman, but I am not a
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Shakespearean scholar, that Shakespeare was thinking when he wrote, "Was it the
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proud full sail of his great verse bound for the prize of all too precious you?"
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And there is a word that seems to me very important, and the word is "on first
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looking" into Chapman's Homer. Because this first may, I think, prove most helpful to
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us. At the very moment when I was going over those mighty lines of Chapman, I was
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thinking that perhaps I was only being loyal to my memory. Perhaps the real
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thrill I got out of the verses of Keats lay in that distant moment of my
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childhood in Buenos Aires when I first heard my father reading them up aloud,
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and when the fact that poetry, that language, was not only a medium for
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communication but could also be a passion and the joy was revealed to me.
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I do not think I understood the words, but I felt that something was happening
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to me, was happening not to my mere intelligence but to my whole being, to my
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flesh and blood. Now let's go back to the words "on first looking" into Chapman's
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Homer. I wonder if John Keats felt that thrill when he had gone through the many
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books of the Iliads and the Odyssey. I think the first reading of a poem is the
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true one, and after that we delude ourselves into the belief that the
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sensation, that the impression is repeated. But as I say, it may be a mere
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loyalty, a mere trick of the memory, a mere confusion between our passion and
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the passion we once felt. Thus it might be said that poetry is a new experience
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every time. Every time I read a poem, the experience occurs or happens to occur,
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and that is poetry. I read once that the American painter Whistler was in a
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cafe in Paris and people were discussing the influence of heredity, of the
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environment, of the political state of the times, and so on, on the artist. And
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then Whistler said, "Art happens." That is to say, there is something mysterious
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about art. And I would like to take his words, but to take them in a new sense. I
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should say, "Art happens every time we read a poem." And this may help us to
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clear away—I hope I am mistaken here—the time-honored notion of the classics, the
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idea of everlasting books, of books where one may always find beauty. Perhaps I may
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give a brief survey of the history of books. As far as I remember, the Greeks
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had no use for books or no great use for them. It is a fact, indeed, that most of
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the great teachers of mankind have been not writers but speakers. Let us think
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of Pythagoras, of Christ, Socrates, of the Buddha, and so on. And since I have
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spoken of Socrates, I would like to say something about Plato. I remember Bernard
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Shaw said that Plato was the dramatist who invented Socrates, even as the four
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evangelists were the dramatists who invented Jesus. This may be going too far,
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but there is a certain truth in it. In one of the dialogues of Plato, he speaks
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about books in a rather disparaging way. And he says, "What is a book? A book seems
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like a picture to be a living being, and yet if we ask it something it does not
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answer, and then we see it is dead." And in order to make the book into a living
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thing, he invented, happily for us, the Platonic dialogue, the dialogue that
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forestalls the reader's doubts and questions. But we might say also that Plato
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was wistful about Socrates, that after Socrates' death, he would say to himself,
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"Now, what would Socrates have said about this particular doubt of mine?" And then,
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in order to hear once again the voice of the master he loved, he wrote the
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dialogues. In some of these dialogues, Socrates stands for the truth. In others,
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Plato has dramatized his many moods, and some of those dialogues come to no
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conclusion, whatever, because Plato was thinking as he wrote them. He did not
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know the last page when he wrote the first. He was letting his mind wander,
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and he was dramatizing that mind into many people. But I suppose his chief aim
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was the illusion that, despite the fact that Socrates had drunk the hemlock,
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Socrates was still with him. I feel that to be true, because I have had many
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masters in my life. I am proud of being a disciple, a good disciple, I hope. When I
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think of my father, when I think of the great Jewish Spanish author, Rafael
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Cancinos, a sense, when I think of Macedonio Fernandez, I would also like to
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hear their voices. And sometimes I train my voice into a trick of imitating their
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voices in order that I may think as they would have thought. They are always about
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me. There is another sentence, one of the fathers of the church. He said that it
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was as dangerous to put a book into the hands of an ignorant man as to put a
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sword into the hands of children. So that books to the ancients were mere
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makeshifts. In one of his many letters, Seneca wrote against large libraries, and
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Schopenhauer wrote long afterwards that many people mistook the buying of a book
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for the buying of the contents of the book. Sometimes, looking at the many books
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they have at home, I feel I shall die before I have come to the end of them.
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And yet, I cannot resist the temptation of buying new books. When I go, when I walk
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inside the library, I find a book on one of my hobbies, for example, Old English or
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Old Norse poetry, and then I say to myself, "What a pity I can't buy that
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book because I already have a copy at home."
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And then, after the ancients, there came from the East a different idea of a book.
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There came the idea of holy writ, of books written by the Holy Ghost. There came
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Korans, Bibles, and so on. And following the example of Spengler in his
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"Untergang des Abendlandes," in his "Decline of the West," I shall take the Koran as
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an example. For, if I am not mistaken, the Muslim theologians think of the Koran as
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being prior to the creation of the world. The Koran is written in Arabic, but the
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Muslims think of it as being prior to the language. Indeed, I have read that they
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think of the Koran not as a work of God, but as an attribute of God, even as His
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justice or His mercy or His whole wisdom are. And thus there came into Europe the
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idea of holy writ. And this idea is, I think, a not wholly mistaken one. Bernard
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Shaw, and I am always going back to Bernard Shaw, was asked once whether he
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really thought that the Bible was a work of the Holy Ghost. And he said, "I think
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the Holy Ghost has written not only the Bible, but all books." This is rather
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harsh on the Holy Ghost, of course. "But all books worth rereading, I suppose."
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This, I think, is what Homer meant when he spoke to the muse. And this is what the
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Hebrews and what Milton meant when they talked of the Holy Ghost, whose temple is
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the upright and pure heart of man. And in our less beautiful mythology, we speak of
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the subliminal self, of the subconscious. Of course, those words are rather uncouth
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if we compare them with the muses or with the Holy Ghost. But still, we have to
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put up with the mythology of our time. For the world means essentially the same
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thing. Now, we come to the notion of the classics.
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But I think that a book is really not an immortal object to be picked up and duly
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worshipped, but rather an occasion for beauty. And it has to be so, for language
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is shifting all the time. I am very fond of etymologies, and I may recall to you
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rather, for I'm sure you know much more about these things than I do, some rather
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curious etymologies. For example, we have in English the verb "to tease." That
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word is a mischievous word. It means kind of joke. And yet, in Old English, "tézane"
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meant to wound with a sword, even as in French, "navrer" meant to thrust a sword
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through somebody. Or let us take a different word, the word "threat." Well, in
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Old English, as you may find out from the very first verses of Beowulf, a threat,
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a "threat," meant an angry crowd. That is to say, the cause of the threat. And
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thus, we might go on endlessly. But now, let us consider some particular verses.
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And I take my examples from the English, since I have a particular love for the
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English literature, though my knowledge is, of course, limited. There are cases
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where poetry creates itself. For example, I don't think that the words "creators"
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and "bodkin" are especially beautiful. Indeed, I should say they were rather
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uncouth.
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But if we think of when he himself might his creators make with a bare bodkin,
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we are reminded of the great speech of Hamlet. And thus, the context creates
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poetry for those words, those words that no one would ever dare to use nowadays,
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because they would be mere quotations. And then there are other examples, and
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perhaps simpler ones. Let us take the title of one of the most famous books in
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the world, "Historia del Ingenioso Hidalgo, Don Quixote," or "Don Quixote," as I
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suppose Cervantes would pronounce it, "de la Mancha." Now, the word "hidalgo" has today a
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peculiar dignity all its own. And yet, when Cervantes wrote it, the word "hidalgo"
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meant, I suppose, a country gentleman. As to the name "Quixote," it was meant to be a
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rather ridiculous word, as the names of many of the characters in Dickens, names
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such as "pickwick" and "swiveler" and "chiselwit" and "twist" and "squeers"
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and "quilp" and so on. And then you have "de la Mancha." Now, this sounds noble and
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Castilian to us, but when Cervantes wrote it down, he intended the word to sound,
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perhaps—I ask the apology of any citizen of that city who may be here—as if he
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wrote "Don Quixote of Kansas City." And yet, nowadays, I'm not speaking against
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Kansas. Let us say "Pewahaw" or "Buenos Aires." And yet, you see how those words
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have changed, how they have been ennobled. You see a strange fact. That's because
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the old soldier, Miguel de Cervantes, poked mild fun at "la Mancha." Now "la
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Mancha" is one of the everlasting words of literature.
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And let us take another example of verses that have changed. I am thinking of a
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sonnet of Rossetti, a sonnet that labors under the not-too-beautiful name
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"Inclusiveness." But the sonnet begins thus. "What man has bent, were his son
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sleep to brood? How that face shall watch his when cold it lies? Or thought, as his
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own mother kissed his eyes, of what her kiss was, when his father would." Now I
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think that those verses are more vivid, perhaps, than when they were written some
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eighty years ago, because the cinema has taught us to follow quick sequences of
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visual images. And thus we have in the first line, "What man has bent, were his
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son sleep to brood?" There we have the father bending over the face of the
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sleeping son. And then in the second image, as in a good film, we have the same
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images reversed. We see the son bending over the face of that dead man, his
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father. And perhaps our recent study of psychology has made us more sensitive to
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those verses. "Or thought, as his own mother kissed his eyes, of what her kiss
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was, when his father would." There is, of course, the beauty of the soft English
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vowels. Brood, would. And the additional beauty of would being by itself. Not
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would her, but simply would by itself. The world goes on ringing. Here we have one
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example. And there is also a different kind of beauty. Let us take an adjective
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that once was commonplace. I have no Greek, but I think that the Greek is
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"Oinopa pontos." And the common English rendering is "the wine dark sea." I suppose the
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word "dark" is slipped in to make things easier for the reader. Perhaps it would
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be "the winey sea" or something of the kind. But I am sure that when Homer, or
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when the many Greeks we call Homer, wrote it, they were simply thinking of the sea.
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I mean, the adjective was straightforward. But nowadays, after trying many
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fancy adjectives, if I, or if any of you, write in a poem "the wine dark sea," this
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is not a mere repetition of what the Greeks wrote. It is rather a going back
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to tradition. It means, rather, that when we speak of the wine dark sea, we are
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thinking of Homer and of the many centuries, perhaps the 30 centuries,
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between us and Homer. So that though the words may be much the same, when we write
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"the wine dark sea," we're really writing something quite different from what
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Homer was writing. So that thus, the language is shifting. The Latins knew all
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about that. And the reader is shifting also. And this brings us back to the old
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metaphor of the Greek. The metaphor, or rather, the truth about no man going
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down twice to the same river. And there is, I think, an element of fear here.
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Because at first, we are apt to think of the river as flowing. We think, well, of
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course, the river goes on, but the water is changing. And then, with a beginning
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sense of awe, we feel that we also are changing, that we are shifting and as
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evanescent as the river is. But we need not worry too much about the fate of the
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classics, because beauty is always with us. And here, I would love to quote another
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verse, perhaps by a now forgotten poet, Browning. He says, "Just when we are safest,
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there's a sunset touch, a chorus ending from Euripides, somebody's death." But the
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first verse is enough. "Just when we are safest." That is to say, beauty is lurking
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all about us. It may come to us in the name of a film. It may come to us in some
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popular lyric. We may even find it in the pages of a great and famous writer.
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And since I have spoken of a dead master of mine, Raphael Cancinos Assens, maybe
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this is the second time you hear his name. I don't quite know why he's forgotten.
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Remember that Cancinos Assens wrote a very fine prose poem wherein he asked God
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to defend him, to save him from beauty, because he says, "There is too much beauty
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in the world." And he thought that beauty was overwhelming it. And though I do not
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know if I've been a particularly happy man, but I hope I'm going to be happy at
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the right age, at the ripe age of 67, I still think that beauty is all around us.
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And as to the fact of a poem being written by a great poet or not, this is only
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important to historians of literature. Let us suppose, for the sake of argument,
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that I have written a beautiful line. Let us take this as a working hypothesis.
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Once I have written it, that line does me no good, because, as I already said,
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that line came to me from the Holy Ghost, from the subliminal self, or perhaps,
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as I often find out, I'm merely quoting something I read some time ago.
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And then it's a rediscovering. So that perhaps it is better that a poet
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should be nameless. I spoke about the wine dark sea, and now, as my hobby is Old
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English, and I'm afraid if you have the courage or the patience to come back to
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some of my lectures, you may have more Old English inflicted on you,
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I would like to recall some lines that I think beautiful. I will say them firstly
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in English, and then in the stark and vowelled Old English of the ninth century.
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"It snowed from the north, rime bound the fields, hail fell on earth,
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the coldest of seeds, northern snow, grim rusan bond, hail fell on earth,
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corna, caldest." Now, going back to what I said about Homer, when the poet wrote
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that, he was merely recording things that had happened. This was, of course,
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very strange in the ninth century, when people thought in terms of mythology,
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of allegorical images, and so on. He was merely telling very commonplace things.
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But nowadays, when we read, "It snowed from the north, rime bound the fields,
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hail fell on earth, the coldest of seeds," there is an added poetry.
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There is the poetry of a nameless Saxon having written those verses by the shores
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of the North Sea in Northumberland, I think, and of those verses coming to us
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so straightforward, so plain, and so pathetic throughout the centuries.
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So that we have both cases. There is the case, and it hardly dwell upon it,
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when time debases a poem, when the words lose their beauty.
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But there is also the case when time enriches and does not debase a poem.
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I have talked at the beginning about definitions. And to end up, I would like
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to say that we make a very common mistake when we think that we are ignorant
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of something because we are unable to define it. But if we are in a
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Chestertonian mood, that is one of the best moods to be in, I think,
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then we might say that we can only define something when we know nothing
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whatever about it. For example, if I have to define poetry,
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then if I feel rather shaky about it, if I'm not too sure about it,
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then I say something like, "Poetry is the expression of the beautiful
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through the medium of words artfully woven together."
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And that definition may be good enough for a dictionary or for a textbook,
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but we all feel that it's rather feeble. At the same time, there's something
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far more important, something that may encourage us to go on,
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not only trying our hand at writing poetry, but enjoying it and feeling that we know
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all about it. And that is that we know what poetry is.
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We know it so well that we cannot define it in other words,
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even as we cannot define the taste of coffee, the color of red or of yellow,
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or the meaning of anger, of love, of hatred, of the sunrise,
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of the sunset, of our love for our country.
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Those things are so deep in us that they can only be expressed by those
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common symbols that we share. So why should we need other words?
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You may not agree with examples I have chosen. Perhaps tomorrow I may think
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of better examples. I may think I might have quoted other lines.
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But as you can pick and choose your own examples, it is not needful that you care
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greatly about Homer or about the Anglo-Saxon poets or about Rossetti,
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because everyone knows where to find poetry. And when it comes,
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he feels the touch of poetry. He feels that particular tingling
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of poetry. And to end with, I have a quotation from St. Augustine.
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And this comes in very fitly, I think. St. Augustine said, "What is time?
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If people do not ask me what time is, I know. If they ask me what it is,
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then I do not know. And I feel in the same way about poetry,
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when it's hardly trouble about definitions." This time, I have a rather
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sea, because I am no good at all at abstract thinking. But in our next lectures,
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if you're good enough to put up with me, then we'll take more concrete examples.
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I will speak about the metaphor, about world music, about the possibility
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or impossibility of verse translation, about the telling of a tale.
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That is to say, about epic poetry, the oldest and perhaps the bravest kind
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of poetry. And then I will end with something that I can hardly divine now.
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I will end with a lecture called "A Poet's Creed," wherein I will try to justify
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my own life and the confidence some of you may have on me, despite this rather
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awkward and fumbling first lecture of mine.
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[ Applause ]
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>> Lecture 2, The Metaphor.
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>> Ladies and gentlemen, as the subject of today's talk is a metaphor,
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I shall begin by a metaphor. And this first of the many metaphors,
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I shall try to recall, comes from the Far East, from China.
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If I am not mistaken, the Chinese call the world the 10,000 things,
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or this depends on the taste and fancy of the translator, the 10,000 beings.
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Now, we may accept, I suppose, this very conservative estimate, 10,000,
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for of course there are more than 10,000 ants, than 10,000 men,
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than 10,000 hopes, fears, or nightmares in the world.
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But if we accept this number, 10,000, and if we think that all metaphors
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are made by linking two different things together, then had we time enough,
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we might work out an almost unbelievable sum of possible metaphors.
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I have forgotten my algebra, but I think that the sum should be 10,000
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multiplied by 99,999, and so on. Of course, the sum of possible combinations
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is not endless, but it staggers the imagination. And so we might be led to think,
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why on earth should poets all over the world and all over time
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be using the same stock metaphors when there are so many possible combinations?
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The Argentine poet, Lugones, wrote way back in the year 1909,
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that he thought that poets were always using the same metaphors,
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and that he would try his hand at discovering new metaphors for the moon.
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And in fact, he concocted some many hundreds of them.
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He also said, this is in forward to a book called Lunario Sentimental,
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that every word is a dead metaphor. This statement is, of course, a metaphor.
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And yet I think that we all feel the difference between dead and living metaphors.
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If we take any good etymological dictionary, I am thinking of my old unknown friend,
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Dr. Skeetch, and if we look up any word, we are sure to find a metaphor
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tucked away somewhere. For example, the word threat meant,
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you can find this in the very first lines of Beowulf, freat meant an angry mob.
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But now the word is given to the effect and not to the cause.
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Then we have the word king. King was originally kuning,
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and this meant a man who stood for the king, for the people.
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So etymologically, king, kinsman, and gentleman are the same word.
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And yet, if I say the king sat in his counting house, counting out his money,
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we don't think of the word king as being a metaphor.
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In fact, if we go in for abstract thinking, we have to forget that words were metaphors.
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We have to forget, for example, that in the word consider,
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there is a suggestion of astrology. Because in consider, we're thinking of making a horoscope.
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So what is important about the metaphor, I should say, is the fact of its being felt
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by the reader or the hearer as a metaphor.
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And I will confine this talk to metaphors that are felt as metaphors by the reader,
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not to such words as king or threat.
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And we might go on, perhaps, if forever.
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In the first case, I would like to take some stock patterns of metaphor.
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I use the word pattern because the metaphors I will quote will be to the imagination quite different,
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and yet to the logical thinker, they would be almost the same.
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So that we might speak of them as equations.
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And let us take the first that comes to my mind.
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Let us take the stock comparison, the time-honored comparison of eyes and stars,
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or inversely, of stars and eyes.
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And the first example I remember comes from the Greek anthology.
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And I think Plato is supposed to have written it.
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The verses, I have no Greek, run more or less as follows.
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"I wish I were the night, and so that I might watch your sleep with a thousand eyes."
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Now here, of course, what we feel is the tenderness of the lover.
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What we feel is his wish to be able to see his beloved from many points at once.
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But we feel the tenderness behind those verses.
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Now let us take another and less illustrious example.
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The stars look down.
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Now here, of course, we have, if we take the logical thinking seriously,
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here, of course, we have the same metaphor.
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And yet, the effect on our imagination is quite different.
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Because the stars look down, do not make us think of tenderness.
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They rather give the idea of generations and of generations of men toiling on.
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And the stars look down with a kind of lofty indifference.
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And we'll take another, a different example.
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This is one of the verses, one of the stanzas that have most struck me.
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They come from a poem of Chesterton called "A Second Childhood."
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And therein we read, "But I shall not be too old to see in almost night arise a cloud
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that is larger than the world, and a monster made of eyes."
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Not a monster full of eyes.
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We know those monsters from the revelation of St. John.
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But this is far more awful, a monster made of eyes.
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As if his eyes were the living tissue of him.
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Well, now we have seen those three images.
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And they can all, of course, be traced back to the same pattern.
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But the point I would like to emphasize, and this is really one of the two important points
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in my talk, is that though the pattern is essentially the same, yet in the first case,
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in the Greek example, "I wish I were the night," what the poet makes us feel is his tenderness,
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his anxiety.
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In the second, we feel a kind of divine indifference to things human.
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And in the third, the night, the familiar night, becomes a nightmare.
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And now, let us take another pattern, a different one.
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Let us take the idea of time flowing, flowing even as a river does.
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And the first example comes out of a poem that Tennyson wrote when he was, I think,
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13 or 14.
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Then he destroyed it.
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But happily for us, a line survives, a single line.
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I think you can find it in Tennyson's biography written by Andrew Lang.
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The line is this, "Time flowing in the middle of the night."
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I think that Tennyson has chosen his time very wisely, because all things are silent.
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Men are sleeping, and yet time is flowing noiselessly on.
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This is one example.
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There is also a novel, I'm sure you're thinking of it, called simply "Time and the River."
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And the mere putting together of the two words suggests the metaphor, time and the river,
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they both flow on.
411
00:56:24,300 --> 00:56:35,980
And then of course, that famous sentence of a Greek philosopher about no man steps down
412
00:56:35,980 --> 00:56:39,420
twice to the same river.
413
00:56:39,420 --> 00:56:48,820
And here, we have a beginning of terror, because at first we think of the river as flowing
414
00:56:48,820 --> 00:56:50,060
on.
415
00:56:50,060 --> 00:56:52,620
The drops of water are different.
416
00:56:52,620 --> 00:57:02,860
And then we are made to feel that we are the river, that we are as fugitive as the river.
417
00:57:02,860 --> 00:57:12,100
And we have of course, those verses by Manrique, "Nuestras vidas son los rios que van a dar
418
00:57:12,100 --> 00:57:14,980
en la mar, que es el morir."
419
00:57:14,980 --> 00:57:23,340
Our lives are the rivers that flow into that sea, death.
420
00:57:23,340 --> 00:57:27,700
This statement is not too impressive in English.
421
00:57:27,700 --> 00:57:34,260
I wish I could remember how Longfellow translated it in his "Coplas de Manrique."
422
00:57:34,260 --> 00:57:40,020
But of course, and we shall go into this question in another lecture.
423
00:57:40,020 --> 00:57:48,300
Of course, behind the stock metaphor, we have the grave music of the words.
424
00:57:48,300 --> 00:57:54,180
"Nuestras vidas son los rios que van a dar en la mar, que es el morir.
425
00:57:54,180 --> 00:57:58,580
Allá van los señorios derechos hacia acabar y consumir."
426
00:57:58,580 --> 00:57:59,940
And so on.
427
00:57:59,940 --> 00:58:06,940
But the metaphor, of course, is exactly the same in these cases.
428
00:58:06,940 --> 00:58:15,620
And now, we will go on to something very trite, something that may cause you to smile.
429
00:58:15,620 --> 00:58:25,020
The comparison of women to flowers and flowers to women also.
430
00:58:25,020 --> 00:58:31,660
Here, of course, there are far too many easy examples.
431
00:58:31,660 --> 00:58:35,660
But there is one I would like to recall.
432
00:58:35,660 --> 00:58:44,780
Perhaps it may not be familiar to you from that unfinished masterwork, Robert Louis Stevenson's
433
00:58:44,780 --> 00:58:47,780
"Weir of Hermiston."
434
00:58:47,780 --> 00:58:54,820
Stevenson tells of his hero going into a church in Scotland.
435
00:58:54,820 --> 00:59:01,980
Then he sees a girl, a lovely girl, were made to feel.
436
00:59:01,980 --> 00:59:09,020
And one feels that he's already beginning to fall in love with her, that he's about
437
00:59:09,020 --> 00:59:10,860
to fall in love with her.
438
00:59:10,860 --> 00:59:22,020
Because he looks at her, she... and then he thinks.
439
00:59:22,020 --> 00:59:32,500
He thinks whether there is an immortal soul within that beautiful frame, or whether she
440
00:59:32,500 --> 00:59:40,420
is a mere animal, the color of flowers.
441
00:59:40,420 --> 00:59:50,300
The word, the brutality of the word animal is, of course, destroyed by the color of flowers.
442
00:59:50,300 --> 00:59:55,060
I don't think we need any other examples of this pattern.
443
00:59:55,060 --> 01:00:03,060
Of course, it can be found in all ages, in all tongues, in all literatures.
444
01:00:03,060 --> 01:00:11,580
Now we will go on to another of the essential patterns of metaphor.
445
01:00:11,580 --> 01:00:18,460
The pattern of life being a dream.
446
01:00:18,460 --> 01:00:24,860
The feeling that comes over us of life being a dream.
447
01:00:24,860 --> 01:00:36,220
And the evident example that comes to us is, we are such stuff as dreams are made on.
448
01:00:36,220 --> 01:00:44,260
Now it may sound like a blasphemy, but I love Shakespeare too much to care about that.
449
01:00:44,260 --> 01:00:51,100
But I think that here, if we care to look at it, and I don't think we should look at
450
01:00:51,100 --> 01:00:58,540
it too closely, we should rather be grateful to Shakespeare for this and his many other
451
01:00:58,540 --> 01:00:59,540
gifts.
452
01:00:59,540 --> 01:01:09,060
If we care to look at it, I think there is a slight, a very slight contradiction between
453
01:01:09,060 --> 01:01:21,980
the fact of our lives being dreamlike or having a dreamlike essence in them and the rather
454
01:01:21,980 --> 01:01:30,100
sweeping statement, we are such stuff as dreams are made on.
455
01:01:30,100 --> 01:01:36,940
Because if we are really dreams, or if we are merely dreamers of dreams, then I wonder
456
01:01:36,940 --> 01:01:42,020
if we can make such sweeping statements.
457
01:01:42,020 --> 01:01:48,740
I mean, this sentence of Shakespeare belongs rather to philosophy or to metaphysics than
458
01:01:48,740 --> 01:01:49,740
to poetry.
459
01:01:49,740 --> 01:01:57,220
Though of course, it is heightened, it is lifted up into poetry by the context.
460
01:01:57,220 --> 01:02:06,740
Now I will take another example of the same pattern by a great German poet, a minor poet
461
01:02:06,740 --> 01:02:15,780
besides Shakespeare, but I suppose all poets are minor besides two or three of them.
462
01:02:15,780 --> 01:02:26,540
I remember reading that very famous piece by Walter von der Vogelweide, and I suppose
463
01:02:26,540 --> 01:02:29,780
I should say it thus.
464
01:02:29,780 --> 01:02:33,740
I wonder how my Middle German goes, but you'll excuse me.
465
01:02:33,740 --> 01:02:39,740
"Is mir mein Leben getraumet oder ist es wahr?
466
01:02:39,740 --> 01:02:44,740
Have I dreamt my life or was it a true one?"
467
01:02:44,740 --> 01:02:52,420
And I think that this comes nearer to what the poet is trying to say, because instead
468
01:02:52,420 --> 01:02:56,940
of a sweeping affirmation, we have a question.
469
01:02:56,940 --> 01:02:59,180
The poet is wondering.
470
01:02:59,180 --> 01:03:05,220
This has happened to all of us, but we are not worried as Walter von der Vogelweide did.
471
01:03:05,220 --> 01:03:13,540
He's asking himself, "Is mir mein Leben getraumet oder ist es wahr?"
472
01:03:13,540 --> 01:03:28,940
And this hesitation gives us that dreamlike essence of life, I think.
473
01:03:28,940 --> 01:03:37,460
I don't remember whether in my last lecture, because this is a sentence I'm quoting over
474
01:03:37,460 --> 01:03:40,900
and over again, I've quoted all through my life.
475
01:03:40,900 --> 01:03:48,260
I wonder if I gave you a quotation from the Chinese philosopher, the Zhuangzi.
476
01:03:48,260 --> 01:03:54,340
Zhuangzi dreamt that he was a butterfly, and on waking up, he did not know whether he was
477
01:03:54,340 --> 01:04:00,460
a man who had a dream of being a butterfly or a butterfly who's now dreaming he was a
478
01:04:00,460 --> 01:04:01,460
man.
479
01:04:01,460 --> 01:04:05,980
And this, I think, is the finest of all.
480
01:04:05,980 --> 01:04:13,580
Firstly, because he begins by a dream, so that afterwards, when he wakes up, when he
481
01:04:13,580 --> 01:04:19,740
awakens, his life has still something dreamlike about it.
482
01:04:19,740 --> 01:04:28,580
And secondly, because with a kind of almost miraculous happiness, he has chosen the right
483
01:04:28,580 --> 01:04:29,580
animal.
484
01:04:29,580 --> 01:04:38,020
Had he said, "Zhuangzi had a dream that he was a tiger," then there would be nothing
485
01:04:38,020 --> 01:04:39,900
in it.
486
01:04:39,900 --> 01:04:49,660
Because while a butterfly has something delicate and evanescent about it, that is to say, if
487
01:04:49,660 --> 01:04:59,980
we are dreams, the true way to suggest a dream is a butterfly and not a tiger.
488
01:04:59,980 --> 01:05:04,940
Or for example, "Zhuangzi had a dream that he was a typewriter," that would be no good
489
01:05:04,940 --> 01:05:05,940
at all, no.
490
01:05:05,940 --> 01:05:09,900
Or that he was a whale, that would do him no good.
491
01:05:09,900 --> 01:05:19,060
I think he's chosen just the right word for what he's trying to say.
492
01:05:19,060 --> 01:05:24,860
And we will try and follow another pattern.
493
01:05:24,860 --> 01:05:27,380
This is a very common one.
494
01:05:27,380 --> 01:05:44,980
The idea, the linking up of the ideas of life, no, of sleeping and dying.
495
01:05:44,980 --> 01:05:49,260
This is quite common, in common speech also.
496
01:05:49,260 --> 01:05:56,620
And yet, if we look for examples, we shall find that they are very different.
497
01:05:56,620 --> 01:06:06,380
I think that somewhere in Homer, he speaks of the iron sleep, the iron sleep of death.
498
01:06:06,380 --> 01:06:10,540
And here, he gives us the two opposite ideas.
499
01:06:10,540 --> 01:06:21,300
Death is a kind of sleep, and yet, sleeping, and yet that kind of sleep is made of a hard
500
01:06:21,300 --> 01:06:25,860
and ruthless and cruel metal, of iron.
501
01:06:25,860 --> 01:06:32,020
It is a kind of sleep that is unbroken and unbreakable.
502
01:06:32,020 --> 01:06:40,620
Of course, we have Hyne here also, "Der Tod, das ist die kühle Nacht."
503
01:06:40,620 --> 01:06:51,740
And since we are north of Boston, I think we might speak also, we might remember those
504
01:06:51,740 --> 01:07:01,540
verses, those perhaps two well-known verses of Robert Frost.
505
01:07:01,540 --> 01:07:11,460
"The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before
506
01:07:11,460 --> 01:07:16,780
I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep."
507
01:07:16,780 --> 01:07:25,780
Those verses are so perfect that we hardly think of a trick, and yet, unhappily, all
508
01:07:25,780 --> 01:07:28,460
literature is made of tricks.
509
01:07:28,460 --> 01:07:35,460
Those tricks get, in the long run, found out, and then the reader tires of them.
510
01:07:35,460 --> 01:07:42,940
But in this case, the trick is so unobtrusive that I feel rather ashamed of myself for calling
511
01:07:42,940 --> 01:07:44,380
it a trick.
512
01:07:44,380 --> 01:07:49,220
It is merely for want of a better word.
513
01:07:49,220 --> 01:07:59,780
Because Frost has attempted something very daring here, we have the same verses repeated,
514
01:07:59,780 --> 01:08:06,460
word by word, twice over, and yet the sense is different.
515
01:08:06,460 --> 01:08:12,940
And "miles to go before I sleep," this is merely physical.
516
01:08:12,940 --> 01:08:22,700
The miles are miles in space in New England, and sleep means, well, it means going to sleep.
517
01:08:22,700 --> 01:08:31,540
And then, "and miles to go before I sleep," then we are made to feel that the miles are
518
01:08:31,540 --> 01:08:40,980
not only in space but in time, and that sleeping means dying or resting.
519
01:08:40,980 --> 01:08:50,540
Now, had the poet said so in so many words, then he would have been far less effective.
520
01:08:50,540 --> 01:09:00,540
Because as I understand it, everything, anything suggested is far more effective than anything
521
01:09:00,540 --> 01:09:03,260
laid down.
522
01:09:03,260 --> 01:09:10,380
Perhaps the human mind has a tendency to deny a statement.
523
01:09:10,380 --> 01:09:16,460
I remember what Emerson said, "Arguments convince nobody."
524
01:09:16,460 --> 01:09:21,500
They convince nobody because they are presented as arguments.
525
01:09:21,500 --> 01:09:28,340
And then we look at them, we weigh them, we turn them over, and we may decide against
526
01:09:28,340 --> 01:09:29,340
them.
527
01:09:29,340 --> 01:09:37,300
But when something is merely said, or better still, hinted at, then there's a kind of hospitality
528
01:09:37,300 --> 01:09:39,300
in our imagination.
529
01:09:39,300 --> 01:09:41,780
We are ready to accept it.
530
01:09:41,780 --> 01:09:52,460
I remember having read some 30 years ago the works of Martin Buber, and I thought of them
531
01:09:52,460 --> 01:09:54,900
as being wonderful poems.
532
01:09:54,900 --> 01:10:02,700
And then when I went to Buenos Aires, I read a book by a friend of mine, Duchovny, and
533
01:10:02,700 --> 01:10:11,020
I found in its pages, much to my astonishment, that Martin Buber was a philosopher, and that
534
01:10:11,020 --> 01:10:18,460
all his philosophy lay in those books I had read as poetry.
535
01:10:18,460 --> 01:10:29,180
And perhaps I had accepted those books because they came to me through poetry, through suggestion,
536
01:10:29,180 --> 01:10:33,540
through the music of poetry, and not as arguments.
537
01:10:33,540 --> 01:10:43,220
And I think that somewhere in Walt Whitman, maybe found the same idea, the idea of reasons
538
01:10:43,220 --> 01:10:48,820
being unconvincing.
539
01:10:48,820 --> 01:10:58,220
I think he says somewhere that he finds the night air, the large few stars, far more convincing
540
01:10:58,220 --> 01:11:06,260
than mere theogonies.
541
01:11:06,260 --> 01:11:16,700
And I suppose we may think of other trends, of other patterns of metaphor.
542
01:11:16,700 --> 01:11:21,940
For example, this is not as common as the other ones.
543
01:11:21,940 --> 01:11:30,900
We have the idea of a battle and of a fire, and we find this in the Iliad, the idea of
544
01:11:30,900 --> 01:11:34,700
a battle blazing like a fire.
545
01:11:34,700 --> 01:11:41,060
And also, we have the same idea in the heroic fragment of Finsburg.
546
01:11:41,060 --> 01:11:50,140
In that fragment, we are told of the Danes fighting the Frisians, of the glitter of the
547
01:11:50,140 --> 01:11:54,700
weapons, the shields, the swords, and so on.
548
01:11:54,700 --> 01:12:02,540
And then the writer says that it seemed as if all Finsburg, as if the whole castle of
549
01:12:02,540 --> 01:12:07,300
Fin were on fire.
550
01:12:07,300 --> 01:12:11,500
This of course is not as common as the other ones.
551
01:12:11,500 --> 01:12:19,300
Now we may suppose that I have left out some quite common patterns.
552
01:12:19,300 --> 01:12:33,980
We have taken so far eyes and stars, women and flowers, time and rivers, life and a dream,
553
01:12:33,980 --> 01:12:38,100
death and sleeping, fire and battles.
554
01:12:38,100 --> 01:12:47,100
And perhaps had we time and learning enough, we might find half a dozen other patterns.
555
01:12:47,100 --> 01:12:53,820
And perhaps those might give us most of the metaphors in literature.
556
01:12:53,820 --> 01:13:03,540
Now what is really important is the fact not of there being a few patterns, but of those
557
01:13:03,540 --> 01:13:09,740
patterns being capable of almost endless variations.
558
01:13:09,740 --> 01:13:20,980
So that perhaps a reader who care for poetry and not for the theory of poetry might read,
559
01:13:20,980 --> 01:13:29,940
for example, "I wish that I were the night," and then afterwards, "A monster made of eyes,"
560
01:13:29,940 --> 01:13:41,140
or "The stars look down," and never stop to think that those can be traced back to a single
561
01:13:41,140 --> 01:13:43,180
pattern.
562
01:13:43,180 --> 01:13:49,900
Now if I were a daring thinker, but I am not, I'm a very timid thinker, I'm groping my way
563
01:13:49,900 --> 01:14:01,940
along, I could of course say that only a dozen or so patterns exist and that the rest of
564
01:14:01,940 --> 01:14:06,460
metaphors are mere arbitrary games.
565
01:14:06,460 --> 01:14:17,300
This of course would amount to a statement that between the 10,000 things of the Chinese
566
01:14:17,300 --> 01:14:26,140
definition only some 12 essential affinities might be found.
567
01:14:26,140 --> 01:14:34,660
Because of course you can find other affinities that are merely astonishing, and astonishment
568
01:14:34,660 --> 01:14:38,700
hardly lasts for more than a moment.
569
01:14:38,700 --> 01:14:49,380
I remember now that I have forgotten quite a good example of the dream and life equation,
570
01:14:49,380 --> 01:14:58,820
which I think that I can recall it now, by the American poet Robert, by the American
571
01:14:58,820 --> 01:15:02,420
poet Cummings.
572
01:15:02,420 --> 01:15:04,540
These are four verses.
573
01:15:04,540 --> 01:15:07,660
I think I must apologize for the first.
574
01:15:07,660 --> 01:15:15,540
Evidently it was written by a young man writing for young men, and I can no longer claim that
575
01:15:15,540 --> 01:15:16,540
privilege.
576
01:15:16,540 --> 01:15:20,220
I think I'm far too old for that kind of game.
577
01:15:20,220 --> 01:15:24,740
But the stanza should be quoted in full.
578
01:15:24,740 --> 01:15:30,420
God's terrible face, brighter than a spoon.
579
01:15:30,420 --> 01:15:37,580
I'm rather sorry about the spoon, because of course one feels that he thought at first
580
01:15:37,580 --> 01:15:44,300
of a sword, or of a candle, or of the sun, or of a shield, or of something traditionally
581
01:15:44,300 --> 01:15:45,300
shining.
582
01:15:45,300 --> 01:15:51,340
And then he said, "No, after all I'm modern, so I'll work in a spoon."
583
01:15:51,340 --> 01:15:55,220
So he got his spoon.
584
01:15:55,220 --> 01:15:59,300
But we may forgive him that for what comes afterwards.
585
01:15:59,300 --> 01:16:08,780
God's terrible face, brighter than a spoon, collects the image of one fatal word.
586
01:16:08,780 --> 01:16:13,700
This second line is better, I think.
587
01:16:13,700 --> 01:16:20,420
And as my friend Merchants said to me, "In a spoon, we also have many images collected."
588
01:16:20,420 --> 01:16:25,380
I had never thought of that, because I had been taken aback by the spoon, and so I did
589
01:16:25,380 --> 01:16:27,860
not want to think much about it.
590
01:16:27,860 --> 01:16:36,140
So God's terrible face, brighter than a spoon, collects the image of one fatal word, until
591
01:16:36,140 --> 01:16:40,140
my life that light the sun and moon.
592
01:16:40,140 --> 01:16:51,900
Here there is a kind of strange simplicity, resembles something that has not occurred.
593
01:16:51,900 --> 01:16:55,020
Resembles something that has not occurred.
594
01:16:55,020 --> 01:17:02,700
And this, I think, gives us the dreamlike essence of life better than those more famous
595
01:17:02,700 --> 01:17:08,340
poets, Shakespeare and Walter von der Etefogelweide.
596
01:17:08,340 --> 01:17:18,340
But of course, I have chosen a few examples, and I'm sure that your memories are full of
597
01:17:18,340 --> 01:17:27,900
metaphors, that you have treasured up of metaphors that you may be hoping I may quote, because
598
01:17:27,900 --> 01:17:34,860
I know that after this lecture, I shall feel an amount of remorse coming over me, thinking
599
01:17:34,860 --> 01:17:38,100
of the many beautiful metaphors I have missed.
600
01:17:38,100 --> 01:17:46,340
And of course, you will say to me in an aside, "But why did you omit that wonderful metaphor
601
01:17:46,340 --> 01:17:52,980
by so and so and so?" and then I have to fumble and to apologize.
602
01:17:52,980 --> 01:18:04,180
But now, I think that we might go on to metaphors that seem to stand outside in a known pattern.
603
01:18:04,180 --> 01:18:10,180
And since I have spoken of the moon, I'll take a Persian metaphor.
604
01:18:10,180 --> 01:18:15,780
I read it somewhere in Brown's history of Persian literature.
605
01:18:15,780 --> 01:18:23,380
Let us say it came from Farid ud-Din Atar or Umar Khayyam or Hafiz, one of the great
606
01:18:23,380 --> 01:18:24,980
Persian poets.
607
01:18:24,980 --> 01:18:32,540
He speaks of the moon, and he says, and he calls the moon the mirror of time.
608
01:18:32,540 --> 01:18:40,620
Of course, I suppose that from the point of view of astronomy, the idea of the moon being
609
01:18:40,620 --> 01:18:49,620
a mirror is as it should be, but this is quite irrelevant from the poetical point of view.
610
01:18:49,620 --> 01:18:56,300
The fact of the moon being or not being a mirror has no importance, whatever, since
611
01:18:56,300 --> 01:19:00,580
poetry talks to the imagination.
612
01:19:00,580 --> 01:19:05,380
Now let us look at the moon as a mirror of time.
613
01:19:05,380 --> 01:19:10,540
I think it a very fine metaphor.
614
01:19:10,540 --> 01:19:19,220
The first instance, because the idea of a mirror gives us the brightness and the fragility
615
01:19:19,220 --> 01:19:20,900
of the moon.
616
01:19:20,900 --> 01:19:30,220
And secondly, the idea of time makes us suddenly remember that that very clear moon we are
617
01:19:30,220 --> 01:19:41,540
looking at is very ancient, is full of poetry and mythology, is as old as time.
618
01:19:41,540 --> 01:19:48,180
And since I spoke of as old as time, I must quote another verse, a verse that perhaps
619
01:19:48,180 --> 01:19:52,340
is bubbling up in your memory.
620
01:19:52,340 --> 01:19:54,900
I can't recall the name of the author.
621
01:19:54,900 --> 01:20:04,180
I found it quoted by Kipling in a not too rememorable book of his called "From Sea to
622
01:20:04,180 --> 01:20:10,580
Sea", "A rose-red city, half as old as time."
623
01:20:10,580 --> 01:20:16,260
Had the poet written "A rose-red city, as old as time," he would have written nothing
624
01:20:16,260 --> 01:20:17,260
at all.
625
01:20:17,260 --> 01:20:23,620
But "Half as old as time" gives it a kind of magic precision.
626
01:20:23,620 --> 01:20:32,780
The same kind of magic precision that is achieved by that strange and common English phrase,
627
01:20:32,780 --> 01:20:37,780
"I will love you forever and a day."
628
01:20:37,780 --> 01:20:41,900
Forever means a very long time.
629
01:20:41,900 --> 01:20:48,620
But it's too abstract to appeal to the imagination.
630
01:20:48,620 --> 01:20:54,860
We have the same kind of trick, I apologize for the use of that word, in the name of that
631
01:20:54,860 --> 01:20:59,260
famous book, "The Thousand and One Nights."
632
01:20:59,260 --> 01:21:08,460
For the thousand nights mean to the imagination the many nights, even as 40 used to mean many
633
01:21:08,460 --> 01:21:10,740
in the 17th century.
634
01:21:10,740 --> 01:21:16,200
When 40 winters shall be sieged by brown, writes Shakespeare.
635
01:21:16,200 --> 01:21:21,740
And I think of the common English expression, "Forty winks for a nap."
636
01:21:21,740 --> 01:21:24,180
For 40 means I suppose many.
637
01:21:24,180 --> 01:21:32,540
And here we have the thousand nights and a night, even as a rose-red city, and then the
638
01:21:32,540 --> 01:21:39,860
fanciful precision, "Half as old as time," which makes it of course longer.
639
01:21:39,860 --> 01:21:47,660
And now let us consider different metaphors.
640
01:21:47,660 --> 01:21:55,900
And I will go back, inevitably, we will say, to my favorite Anglo-Saxons.
641
01:21:55,900 --> 01:22:04,540
Remember that very common kenning, calling the sea the whale road.
642
01:22:04,540 --> 01:22:13,380
Now I wonder whether the unknown Saxon who first coined that kenning knew how fine it
643
01:22:13,380 --> 01:22:14,380
was.
644
01:22:14,380 --> 01:22:22,200
I wonder whether he felt, for this need hardly concern us, that the hugeness of the whale
645
01:22:22,200 --> 01:22:27,620
emphasized or suggested the hugeness of the sea.
646
01:22:27,620 --> 01:22:30,260
There is another metaphor.
647
01:22:30,260 --> 01:22:34,900
This is an old one, about blood.
648
01:22:34,900 --> 01:22:44,260
And the common kenning for blood is the water of the serpent.
649
01:22:44,260 --> 01:22:53,180
And in that metaphor, we have the suggestion to be found also among the Saxons of a sword
650
01:22:53,180 --> 01:23:02,260
as being an essentially evil being, a being that lapped up the blood of men as if it were
651
01:23:02,260 --> 01:23:03,260
water.
652
01:23:03,260 --> 01:23:08,740
And now we have the metaphors for battle.
653
01:23:08,740 --> 01:23:11,660
Some of them are quite trite.
654
01:23:11,660 --> 01:23:14,740
For example, meeting of men.
655
01:23:14,740 --> 01:23:20,580
Here perhaps there is something fine in the idea of men meeting to kill each other.
656
01:23:20,580 --> 01:23:23,620
It is as if no other meetings were possible.
657
01:23:23,620 --> 01:23:30,500
But we also have the meeting of swords, the dance of swords, the clash of banners, the
658
01:23:30,500 --> 01:23:31,500
clash of shields.
659
01:23:31,500 --> 01:23:36,140
All of them may be found in the old of Brunnenburg.
660
01:23:36,140 --> 01:23:44,180
And there's another, I think, a fine one, torn yemeot, a meeting of anger.
661
01:23:44,180 --> 01:23:52,620
Here perhaps the metaphor is impressive because when we think of meeting, we think of fellowship
662
01:23:52,620 --> 01:23:53,980
and of friendship.
663
01:23:53,980 --> 01:23:57,820
And then there comes the contrast, the meeting of anger.
664
01:23:57,820 --> 01:24:07,020
But these metaphors are nothing, I should say, compared to a very fine Norse and strangely
665
01:24:07,020 --> 01:24:13,820
enough Irish metaphor about the battle.
666
01:24:13,820 --> 01:24:18,340
The battle is called the web of men.
667
01:24:18,340 --> 01:24:24,580
The word web is really wonderful here.
668
01:24:24,580 --> 01:24:32,620
For in the idea of a web, we get the pattern of a medieval battle.
669
01:24:32,620 --> 01:24:40,660
We have, for example, the swords, the shields, the crossing of the weapons.
670
01:24:40,660 --> 01:24:50,580
And then also there is the nightmare touch of a web being made of living beings, a web
671
01:24:50,580 --> 01:24:57,900
of men, a web of men who are dying and killing each other.
672
01:24:57,900 --> 01:25:07,220
And there suddenly comes to my mind a metaphor from Gongore that is rather like the web of
673
01:25:07,220 --> 01:25:08,220
men.
674
01:25:08,220 --> 01:25:13,900
I will quote it first in English and then in Spanish.
675
01:25:13,900 --> 01:25:25,020
He's speaking of a traveler, a traveler who comes to a barbarous village.
676
01:25:25,020 --> 01:25:38,020
And then that village weaves a rope of dogs around him.
677
01:25:38,020 --> 01:25:45,500
Como suele tejer, I suppose you pronounce it that way, barbara aldea, soga de perros
678
01:25:45,500 --> 01:25:47,540
contra forastero.
679
01:25:47,540 --> 01:25:56,920
So that we have, strangely enough, we have the same image, the idea of a rope or a web
680
01:25:56,920 --> 01:25:59,180
made of living beings.