By John Peck (auth.)
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Your close attention to small sections of the poem will only really have any purpose if you pull back and try to make larger judgements along the way. It is a process that must be continued as you look at more poems by the author, going in close for discussion of the texture of his verse, but then pulling out and spelling out what you have learnt from your close focusing. The other thing that you need to remember as you look at more poems, and generally speaking a look at somewhere between three and six poems should be sufficient, is that, in order to build a view of the writer, you must try to build on what you have established so far.
And, little town, thy streets for evermore Will silent be; and not a soul to tell Why thou are desolate, can e'er return. 0 Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede Of marble men and maidens overwrought, With forest branches and the trodden weed; Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral! When old age shall this generation waste, Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st, 'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,'- that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
He was killed in action in 1918, aged twenty-five, one week before the end of the war, but left a collection of brilliant and moving poems. They are poems which are easy to understand because their subject is so terrifyingly plain. They are also, however, poems which it can prove difficult to discuss because there might not seem much to say other than paraphrasing his words on the horrors of war. And an THE INTERPRETATION OF POETRY 37 opposition might not be apparent, as the whole picture IS so depressing and frightening.
How to Study a Poet by John Peck (auth.)