Cultural relationship. "The Mill-Race" ends on the word "salt," ("but it's mostly the miller's curse-gift, forgotten of God yet still grinding, the salt-/mill, that makes sea, salt"). I'm not pooh-poohing poetry of witness, quite the opposite. So too poetry. Even when the Establishment posthumously highlights a poet such as June Jordan, whose poetics and social vision coalesce into a rich model of the best of art created in a democracy, and whose poetry never suffers from mere narcissism, it does so patronizingly (see Dan Chiasson's review in these pages, November 2005). Emerson thought poems could change reality because they uncover its hardwiring, then jimmy with it. No one says, "Hey lyric soprano, make me feel better, hey basso profundo, help me understand societal problems." That's the moment of poetry; poems exist to let readers share in that moment. Because I am a woman, working class, Native, writing about my life is instantly political.So it is for anyone who isn't white, male, able-bodied, straight, middle-class... For those of us whose history is not represented, or is distorted, or downright lies, poetry is a place to say what is true. Poetic insight, he wrote, "does not come by study, but by the intellect being where and what it sees, by sharing the path or circuit of things through forms, and so making them translucent to others." Becoming aware of this background information can help you to understand and appreciate the poetry texts you read and help you form your responses more effectively. Poetry is a way to understand how language and symbol systems work. The ‘social, historical and cultural’ contexts can consist of a variety of factors. Poems about Social media at the world's largest poetry site. The oral tradition can take many forms, including epic poems, chants, rhymes, songs, and more. "Them" seldom includes "us." Emerson named the current flowing through things divine—a fire our bodies and poems externalize. For the record, I never feel guilty getting paid, ever. If there are universal truths about the communicative functions in poems—truths about all good poems, not just about "The Mill-Race"—they are so universal that they do not count as social, by my lights: they concern communication among just two persons at a time, whether the two meet face-to-face, or whether implicit author and genuine reader live thousands of years apart. Yet if we reject tangled relations to insist on the isolated, fragmented self of modern consciousness, then we remain self-absorbed and self-limiting—and certainly incapable of responding to the woman standing with Ahkmatova in the prison line who asked, "Can you describe this?" Compared to the writing of poetry, few other human activities take place so widely, at least in America, absent even a tacit consensus as to why we do them, what good they do, what function they serve. The poem also demonstrates the student's understanding of the meaning behind the mask. Bad poems are often more useful for healing, persuasion, and celebration than good ones. But at some point the poem takes over, makes requirements of us instead of vice versa. Today we discussed how people view culture, and what makes people ‘cultured’ or ‘culturally trained’. From something you hear or read about that can spark a new poem, about everything to life's situations and the emotional responses it triggers. Take, for example, bad 9/11 poems, at which I do "sniff the air." Pyrotechnic poets, such as Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes, and Adrienne Rich, set a charge that reverberates among multitudes, changing the shape of our social relations and, inescapably, our individual and collective consciousness. The quikest way to lose the respect of friends, family and colleagues is to write poetry for them. In contrast, Emerson claims that "Poets are...liberating gods." I am an Abenaki poet, and never considered my work political until it was published and people started writing about me as a "political" poet. The function of poetry is that it does not have any function beyond its own construction and being-in-the-world. I think poetry ought to be taught not as an engine of meaning but as an opportunity to learn to live in doubt and uncertainty, as a means of claiming indeterminancy. The function of War and Peace is greater than its many uses. Students often go wrong by writing more about the historical background or the life of the poet than about the poem itself. Do other forms of art and work carry out this same task? Society prompts poetry (at least if you're me); poetry, in turn, can be a highly effective tool in portraying one's take on societal issues. We are living in a world of poetries. The pattern of the sentences sound new and melodious. For this reason, poetry makes everything (and, yes, nothing) happen, especially in a consumer society prone to assessing and dispensing value to everything from lap dances to teachers' salaries. Major Jackson: The function of poetry is that it does not have any function beyond its own construction and being-in-the-world. The question is not merely whether the commitment he exemplified is possible now, but whether technology, and the institutions we use to manage it, can allow the kind of … Culture is the distinctive practices and beliefs of a society. It's not as though it's optional. Rather, my point is that different poems do different things, and good poems (such as "The Mill-Race") do many things at once. But this doesn't explain why the superfluous demands are often made by educated poetry experts. An individual poet may think she knows such things about poetry, but put two or more poets (let alone critics) in a room, and their so-called knowledge may reveal itself as clashing opinions or axioms—even though "social," as the antithesis of "individual," implies some ground of agreement, something shared. Whether as a form of witness, as a medium which dignifies individual speech and thought, as a repository of our cumulative experiences, or as a space where we "purify" language, poetry, like all imaginative creations, divines the human enterprise. (Think, for instance, of D.A. Does the social function of poetry vary so wildly that we cannot generalize about it? One only wishes more poets took on with greater awareness the higher calling of their art, which has always had embedded within it a vision of the social. They take it quite seriously and expect a small audience, without worrying about whether their obsession is useful or that their audience is small. Question: Explain the cultural significance of the poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot during the time it was written. Culture grows from roots more enduring than those of the political state. And this is what Eliot means by the social function of poetry in its largest sense, “that it does, in proportion to its excellence and vigour, affect the speech and the sensibility of the whole nation” (p.22) “THE SOCIAL FUNCTION OF POETRY” BY T.S. Kathmandu Valley has served as the country’s cultural metropolis since the unification of Nepal in the 18th Century. Suddenly the words do not sound the same or mean the same. I once had a social worker approach me after a reading to thank me for writing a particular poem. Poetry, like most of the other arts, cannot be defined in general terms that also make clear its utility; plumbing, ASL translation, and oncology can. In this way poetry can be a vehicle for messages of social justice. Theodor Adorno's social (and antisocial) theories demanded that composers, and writers, protect that "isolated, fragmented self of modern consciousness" against the false claims of a bad social whole. Yes, of course, but poetry is especially adept at helping us experience, and so understand, celebrate, mourn, curse, or philosophize about our relations. Maybe no one asks mezzo-sopranos to justify their work in terms of purported political utility, but composers have long encountered such demands. You can separate its content from its uses, which are to shake people from their consumer stupor and usher them into indeterminate mystery." Milton's sonnet against the Long Parliament). Yet his claim that "poetry cannot be defined in terms of a social function at all" except that it "concerns communication among just two persons" seems cramped and unmoored. But anyway, let's face it: were Daisy's nineteenth-century poet-revolutionaries alive today, they would be unemployed and writing in obscurity. Poetry is intensely valuable to me and it always has been. If that is what Emily means, I accept her claim, with two demurrers. D.It is a code for "cool" in the poem. I'm also disturbed by Emily's romantic scenario relating to Guantanamo prisoners. Her full-length collections of poetry include The Leaf Path (1982), The Novice Insomniac (1996), and Shadow Architect (2008). Late Merrill—the Merrill of "Self-Portrait in Tyvek Windbreaker"—wonders whether his poetry might resound beyond that social group. Stephanie (also Steph; formerly Stephen) Burt is a poet, literary critic, and professor. If we use any more conventional, more restrictive senses for "social"—for example, "having to do with a particular society taken as a whole," or even "having to do with people in large groups"—then there is no social function which all good poems have. If a reading public feels consoled or seeks "a momentary stay against confusion," and poetry provides them this, why deem such works of art failures? If we abandon this use, then poets become one more group of wage-laboring specialists, gathered into "ghettos," speaking our own language, and designing complicated objects which serve as prophylactics to protect us from people still naïvely seeking this life-making force. Is it a useful poem? Hello!Very Interesting post! My apprenticeship as a poet was in one of many workshops started in cities all over america by the extraordinary poet, Etheridge Knight, whose poetry was so connected to breath and the body that once you'd heard him speak his poems, you would forever after hear his voice when you read the poems from the page. Poetry’s strength lies in its ability to shed a “sideways” light on the world, so the truth sneaks up on you. Yes. They lack that rich ambiguity which Keats called negative capability, and so fail as poems. Daisy Fried: How about a moratorium on using plumbers and other "common" people as mythical readers of poetry? First, it is a historically specific understanding, one which describes many superb poems, but leaves out many—to say the least—wonderfully memorable uses of verse (e.g. It is my antidote to despair, tiredness and loneliness; a thread that runs through my life. 4 Enjoyment matters. The kind of poetry written to make us feel better, for example, after 9/11, is pro-establishment falsification, for it lets us pull the comforter back over our heads and go on sleeping. High school seniors Sam and Catherine will tell you what they have gotten ou… Insert context header here: J. Alfred Prufrock and Modernism Such a position is necessary to our communal health. She earned degrees from Kalamazoo College and the University of Washington. Historicism argues that literature is a product of its age and the meaning of a text can only be discovered by fitting it around other discourses from the same period. The salt sting is both our empathy for the workers' weariness and the fact of their individual lives ground to salt. She has published four collections of poems: Advice... 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