Monday, October 5, 2015

Summer Ended

    I have recently been reading through Harold Bloom's Anatomy of Influence, which is about his theory that poets have to creatively misread their influences to put forth something meaningful in the poetic canon. He begins with Shakespeare, of course, to show that he has the greatest influence on Bloom's approach to literary criticism. From there, he argues, Milton's Satan has within him the best of Shakespeare's characters to form a distinct personage in response to Shakespeare's influence among other observations.

    Along with Bloom's theory of influence, he also suggested that reading poetry should strengthen one's appreciation for the value that they impress to its readers. His preference is for the Romantic poets such as Blake, Shelly, and Wordsworth. They combined sight and sound to form sensuous verse that evoked feelings. These strong emotions enable us to appreciate their work more than those who would value poetry for its social or political considerations.

    So I wanted to continue with Milton, but I have come to an impasse. To understand this poet, it would be beneficial to mark or place him with other poets to grasp his significance. Thus, it would be artificial to talk about Milton and his work without reference to his influences, which in addition to the Classical sources, also includes Shakespeare, who was given high praise by Milton when an anonymous poem his was dedicated to Shakespeare in his Second Folio in 1630.

    These poets have strongly influenced the way we approach literary studies. And those poets who have been influenced by them also color our understanding of the literary past. It is through these poems that have reacted against their influences that we are able to see the labyrinth of linkages that they have constructed for us. So as we walk through this literary labyrinth, we are able to evaluate how these poets have influenced each other.

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