Number 2123.—November 22, 2023
Dear Unknown Friends:
We continue to serialize Eli Siegel’s 1970 lecture The Poetic Trinity; or, Poetry—Whence, How, Whither? There is in it his might as literary critic and also his beautiful ease and sense of everydayness—his feeling for the very real lives of people.
As to the title: The Whence, he explained, is what poetry comes from, its source. How is the way poetry shows itself. And Whither is poetry’s purpose, what it’s going for.
As I described in our previous issue, Mr. Siegel is using, as a beginning text, essays by George Moir (1800–70). Moir wrote them for the 7th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, and they were also published in a book of 1839 titled Poetry, Modern Romance, and Rhetoric.
What Is Here
There is so much in this third section of the lecture. As it begins, we are in the 6th century bce or so, with Greek lyric poetry, including Sappho. Then there’s a looking back to some 300 years earlier, and Homer. And there is Virgil, about eight centuries after Homer. There is a discussion of how love was seen, and how the feeling about love, the writing about love, changed….Read more
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