Tag Archives: analysis

Poemy unpoeticness – ‘Snow’ by Louis MacNeice

There are not many poets I could point to and say ‘yes, that is the first time I read X, and here is how I felt about it,’ but there are two I remember encountering for the first time more vividly than most.

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Negative Virtues – ‘Into My Own’ by Robert Frost

Poems are not social in any normal sense of the word. You have to spend a lot of time alone to write or read them. The reader might share them or even read them to someone else (it does happen) and you can say that this is a kind of socialness. Here we get a little closer to the truth.

But it’s still not the whole truth: the pleasure the writer and the reader receive from the excuse to be alone which a poem provides them is not identical to the thought of the pleasure they may bring other people. At least that’s not my experience. If it was, people would write fewer poems.

A lot of great poetry comes with a drop of misanthropy. Misanthropy comes in different guizes. It might appear as a preference for some abstract principle — like an idea, or history, or God over living, breathing people. With Robert Frost, it often comes as the desire to be alone.

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