By Robert Pack
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Additional resources for Affirming limits: essays on mortality, choice, and poetic form
And no doubt he has, even though the historical facts have been selected, rearranged, or altered. A convincing illusion is what the poet is trying for-the illusion of a human speaker. This fidelity to creating a convincing illusion marks the poet's seriousness about his art. In my poem, the speaker had a brother and the brother died. I sympathize with him. Believe me, I understand how he felt. In "A General Introduction for My Work," Yeats tells his reader: "All that is personal soon rots. . Talk to me of originality and I will turn on you with rage.
His message is that the poet should beware of writing from the perspective of the autobiographical self-the self that is neither generalized nor extended through invention, transformation, or identification with others. The historical self is merely chance. Through his imaginative powers, the poet chooses to live many lives and thus to have many selves. It is this composite self from which poems should be born. Keats expresses the same idea in his letter to Richard Woodhouse, October 27, 1818: As to the poetical character itself .
Tolstoy is righthappiness is essentially anonymous. But the anonym- Page 19 ity of happiness differs profoundly from the anonymity of the artist who rejects his own life by replacing it with a world of his own making, by making art its own end, by living in a fantasy of power as if he were a god. To affirm one's happiness is to be unique in the fact that it is you who experience it and you who choose to celebrate that experience, not because you are unusual or different. "How beauteous mankind is!
Affirming limits: essays on mortality, choice, and poetic form by Robert Pack