By Jonathan Kertzer
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Additional resources for Poetic Argument: Studies in Modern Poetry
92 He cultivated a poetic diction whose precision and tact would avoid such devastation. In contrast, modern poetry impresses us with the element that we inhabit. It sets loose the subversive counterspirit in language and encourages us to entangle ourselves in a perpetually self-confuting, self-affirming argument. LOGIC, RHETORIC, DRAMA: POETRY AND ARGUMENT So far, I have shown how the theories and reforms grouped under the heading of modernism both contest and rework the romantic legacy. Following such critics as Graham Hough in Image and Experience and Frank Kermode in Romantic Image, I have charted the passage from symbolism to imagism, in order to illustrate the modern ambitions, assumptions, and oversights that provide terms - vision, intuition, unreason, silence, metaphor - with which to understand poetic argument.
If, as I claim, they cannot, why do they appear to do so? As in the previous two sections we should begin by noting how the modern fascination with argument shifts the emphasis and recolours the terms of its romantic predecessors. " The peaceful reconciliation praised here is really an accomplishment, an effect achieved when poetry succeeds in bringing perception, conception, and language into accord. The harmonious system of symbols (rhetoric) obeys the logic that conducts the 40 Poetic Argument mind through its most intelligent and dramatic arguments.
Because words are adequate, the poet does not need a unique diction, only a supple one. Imagists tend to agree with Wordsworth that words are "an incarnation of thought... a constituent part and power or function in the thought,"76 and that consequently the language of poetry need not differ essentially from ordinary speech. Like him, they reject the artificial diction of their predecessors and seek an idiom suited to "all the mighty world / Of eye, and ear," that is, to the world of sensation.