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Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Poetic Diction by Owen Barfield. Howard Nemerov Forward. Poetic Diction , first published in , begins by asking why we call a given grouping of words "poetry" and why these arouse "aesthetic imagination" and produce pleasure in a receptive reader. Returning always to this personal experience of poetry, Owen Barfield at the same time seeks objective standards of criticism and a theory of poetic diction in broader philosophical Poetic Diction , first published in , begins by asking why we call a given grouping of words "poetry" and why these arouse "aesthetic imagination" and produce pleasure in a receptive reader.
Returning always to this personal experience of poetry, Owen Barfield at the same time seeks objective standards of criticism and a theory of poetic diction in broader philosophical considerations on the relation of world and thought. His profound musings explore concerns fundamental to the understanding and appreciation of poetry, including the nature of metaphor, poetic effect, the difference between verse and prose, and the essence of meaning. Forward by Howard Nemerov. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages.
Published December 1st by Wesleyan University Press first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions 3. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
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Douglas I don't know when you put this question up, but I'd like to start unpacking some passages. See all 3 questions about Poetic Diction….
Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. Sort order. Mar 12, John Pillar rated it really liked it. This was definitely new territory for me. I came away from reading it with a greater appreciation for the role of the poet in expanding language and meaning. I'll leave it to other reviewers who may be better versed in literature and philosophy to comment on the technical details of the book.
One thing I found interesting was that while extolling the virtue of the poetic, Barfield did not denigrate the need for the prosaic. Feb 26, Kenneth rated it it was amazing. He was a friend of C. Lewis and J. Not as well known as they, Barfield wrote mainly criticism and philosophical speculations.
He locates the poetic in the metaphorical use of language to create new perceptions of reality. He also praises the use of archaic language and strange diction to do so. I am not a poet—nor was I meant to be. But in my own prose I have tried to create by fresh metaphors and descriptions an effect similar to what Barfield praises.
Of course, I am not doing justice to his book in this paragraph. At any rate the book is brief, intriguing, but at times a bit obtuse. I recommend it to those of you who are poets or love poetry. Dec 21, Bob Nichols rated it it was ok. This book, regarded as a classic by some, is not about poetry per se. It's about Platonic Truth. Real poets, pure poets, are able to discern these truths via poetic intuition. Certain words and wordings with surface meaning are, really, but reflections of non-material, higher Reality.
Only the poetic philosophers have the capacity to discern through poetic expression and use of metaphors and such. They focus on parts of wholes, but never the whole as such. Science is about "the haphazard pull-and-push ignorance which claims in public the name of science and admits in private that it knows nothing; which, when it turns inward to the mind of the Knower, finds there a nothingness within, to match the nothingness without.
Meaning - Reality itself - lives only in the higher, external realm. Criticism of such a reality is based on ignorance, which is the inability to discern properly. In this way, poetic philosophy immunizes itself from criticism.
Truth, after all, is beyond common understanding. As an illustration of such, Barfield notes a problem with "the interpretation of Greek philosophy by modern Europeans. Such an one can read Plato and Aristotle through," he writes, "from end to end, he can even write books expounding their philosophy, and all without understanding a single sentence. Unless he has enough imagination and enough power of detachment from the established meanings or thought-forms of his own civilization, to enable him to grasp the meanings of the fundamental terms -- unless, in fact, he has the power not only of thinking but of unthinking -- he will simply re-interpret everything they say in terms of subsequent thought.
Does it mean that Barfield's poet-philosopher needs an eternal world? Does he or she fear its absence? Or is his or her Meaning the product of both need and fear? Barfield refers to the older, pure poets who drew "from primal source of Meaning.
Plato was but a reflection of something deeper, richer and more archetypically primal. This was earlier Greek society that experienced a unified reality, as opposed to an analytic breaking down of reality into its component parts.
The speaker has observed a unity, and is not therefore himself conscious of relation. The good poet is one who enlivens words with mythical content. Words can be traced back to their roots that have mythical foundation, and mythical foundation because they represent something primal and true: "if one traces them back far enough, one reaches a period at which their meaning had a mythical content.
Connections between discrete phenomena, connections which are now apprehended as metaphor, were once perceived as immediate realities. As such the poet strives, by his own efforts, to see them, and to make others see them, again. In this way, the rational principle is "the anti-poetic. But then he goes on to ask, "Is it necessary to add to this that the scientist, if he has 'discovered' anything, must also have discovered it by the right interaction of the rational and poetic principles?
Really, there is no distinction between Poetry and Science, as kinds of knowing, at all. There's is only a distinction between bad poetry and bad science.
While of course cosmic reality is external, independent, Barfield is referencing something quite different: the reality of Being that stands above and creates such a reality. Dec 01, Jeremy rated it really liked it Shelves: non-fiction , dictionary-language , poetry , inklings. Assigned for Dr. Ralph Wood's Oxford Christians course at Baylor Some really great things in here, but not an accessible book.
Here's Barfield's assessment of the book, 46 years after its publication: "If the book does anything, it erects a structure of thought on the basis of a felt difference between what it calls 'the Prosaic' and 'the Poetic'.
Corollary thereto is a further distinction drawn between two kinds of poetry, or of the Poetic itself, and further the conception that that di Assigned for Dr. Corollary thereto is a further distinction drawn between two kinds of poetry, or of the Poetic itself, and further the conception that that distinction reveals human consciousness as in process of evolution.
And I wonder if the fact that I seemed to have discovered, or rather to be discovering, these thing for myself, mainly by pondering the felt difference to which I have referred, may not have imparted a certain energy that accounts for its having apparently outlasted some other books by men who knew a great deal more both of literature and of the history of ideas" Afterword, Nemerov's Foreward: 2: should poets be contemplative?
Feb 24, Wesley Schantz rated it it was amazing. Lewis called Owen Barfield the "wisest and best of my unofficial teachers," and Barfield's Poetic Diction: A Study in Meaning is dedicated to Lewis or, in the original publication of , to Lewis' then-pseudonym, Clive Hamilton. The accompanying inscription, 'opposition is true friendship,' Barfield quotes from Blake's Marriage of Heaven and Hell, a work Lewis would later counter with his Great Divorce. As the one is left in Greek, and the other comes from somewhere in the middle of a long philosophical memoir, we might have an idea of what we're in for reading Poetic Diction.
Barfield writes for an audience of people, like his friend-opponent Lewis, who are versed in language and literature, history and philosophy, and for whom controversies of logic and metaphysics rooted in the theories of the Greeks and Romantics but also in Locke, Hume, and Kant are live and urgent. Presumably, whatever might have motivated his early readers, most of us who come to read Barfield today do so by way of Lewis and Tolkien, rather than by passing through the rich intellectual tradition in which the Inklings themselves were steeped.
Thus, my main impression reading Barfield's work is of a sort of super-grown-up talking over my head--and this is not meant so much as a criticism of it as a recognition of my own insufficiency.
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Poetic Diction: A Study in Meaning. London: Faber and Gwyer, ; 2nd Ed. Our sophistication, like Odin 's, has cost us an eye; and now it is the language of poets, in so far as they create true metaphors, which must restore this unity conceptually, after it has been lost from perception. Thus, the "before-unapprehended'" relationships of which Shelley spoke, are in a sense "forgotten" relationships. For though they were never yet apprehended, they were at one time seen. And imagination can see them again. Poetic Diction
Poetic Diction: A Study in Meaning
Arthur Owen Barfield 9 November — 14 December was a British philosopher, author, poet, critic, and member of the Inklings. He had three elder siblings: Diana — , Barbara — , and Harry — He was educated at Highgate School and Wadham College, Oxford and in received a first class degree in English language and literature. After finishing his B. After his profession was as a solicitor in London, from which he retired in aged