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Tension in Poetry By Allen Tate Seminar Presented by: Haider Jabr Mihsin. Allen Tate . Allen Tate (1899- )is one of the youngest
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Allen Tate (1899- )is one of the youngest
New critics. He belongs to the Southern group of American critics. He is also a great poet . Tate opposes scienticism and distinguishes between scienticism and literary discourse . He gives importance to the formal qualities of a work of art . Reactionary Essays on Poetry , Ideas , and Reason in Madness are well known collections of Essays and reviews by Tate .
Tension in poetry has been taken from Tate`s
The Man of Letters in the Modern World, Selected Essays . The essay deals with tension as the life of a poem . It reveals Tate`s view that a good poem is the one in which the extension and the intension are in a state of tension. In other words , a good poem has a combination of both extensive or denotative and intensive or connotative meanings .
The essay is divided into three parts . Part 1 deals with the fallacy of communication in poetry. Tate explains his point with some examples . Part II , Tate defines tension in poetry and explains its importance in poetry with a few examples . In part III, he gives his final example of the significance of tension in poetry .
Another example of such obscurity is found in the poem “The Vine” by James Thomson. The language here appeals to an affective state. It does not have coherent meaning either literal or implied. The more closely one examines the lyric, the more obscure it becomes. The imagery does not add anything to the general idea of the poem .
Love sits long
One more example is Cowley`s Hymn: To Light. This is a metaphysical poem and does not have any qualities in common Thomson`s The Vine.
Of these poems, equally bad poetry is found in Thomson`s The Vine and Cowley`s Hymn: To Light. However, Cowley`s failure is more. The negative superiority of the poem lies in a firmer use of language . There is no appeal to an affective state . There are uncontrolled distortions. The poem lacks imagination or tension . The Vine is a failure in denotation, while Hymn: To Light is a failure in connotation .
Tate calls these poems absurd. This is because good poetry is a unity of all the meanings from the furthest extremes of intension and extension. The readers recognition of the action of this unified meaning is the gift of experience, culture and humanism . The powers of discrimination here are not deductive powers but total human powers . They have special application to poetry which is a single experience of medium . Thus certain kind of poetry suffers from the fallacy of communication .
Tate says that the meanings selected by the readers along the line between the extremes of intensive and extensive vary according to the personal interest. The Platonist will tend to stay very close to the extension end .he might decide that Marvell`s To His Coy Mistress recommends immoral behavior to young men. It would of course, one true meaning of the poem . However, the full tension of the poem will not allow the readers to entertain it exclusively . The poem has the intensive meaning too. These meaning are sensuality (extensive ) and asceticism or spirituality (intensive) .
Then Tate gives an other example of Donne`s love lyric A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning. He quotes the lines which contain the gold conceit. Here, the souls of the lovers and their unity is compared with uniqueness of gold. The not spatial soul is contradicted with a spatial image (gold). However, the denotation of the gold contains the full meaning of the passage . Extension and intension are one here . And they enrich each other .