PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Kei Millerthe Fat Black Woman
In Praise of the Fat Black Woman & Volume

(PN Review 241)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Next Issue Sasha Dugdale, Intimacy and other poems Eugene Ostashevsky, The Feeling Sonnets Nyla Matuk, The Resistance Alex Wylie, Democratic Rags Brigit Pegeen Kelly, Two poems from the archive
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PN Review Blog
Monthly Carcanet Books

This report is taken from PN Review 230, Volume 42 Number 6, July - August 2016.

Rough Notes for One or Two Undelivered Lectures on T. S. Eliot’s Dante Frank Kuppner
1. We begin with the memorable claim which, if true, is surely one of the very greatest of the Great Oracle’s very many great thoughts. To wit: ‘It is a test (a positive test, I do not assert that it is always valid negatively), that genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.’


2. Meaning, I suppose – (one tries one’s best) – (even if I hardly dare assert it) – that, while ‘genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood’, the mere fact that some gorgeous effusion or other does not communicate before it is understood doesn’t in itself necessarily establish that this effusion might not be genuine poetry too. (Which would leave it as being what? Fake poetry perhaps? (Anyway, presumably not the sort of listless and inauthentic versifying which is understood even before it communicates[?]))


3. Is it not, however, the case that, taken literally and without further elaboration, the idea that ‘genuine poetry’ (or any other sort of utterance, for that matter) can communicate before it is understood, is simply wrong? If the content is not being understood (I assume there is a content, I admit) then what can be being communicated? Not the content, self-evidently. So … something else perhaps? It’s actually communicating something other than (some part of) its own content? (No easy trick, one might think.) (Yes. What else, exactly?) (Or even inexactly?) And what could understanding realistically amount to, if not to a grasp or appreciation of [at least some of] the actual content? ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image