M(acha) L(ouis) Rosenthal William Heyen - Essay

William Heyen

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Poetry and the Common Life ranges wide to explode all sorts of traditional classroom assumptions about what poetry is supposed to be and do for us. The entire book is a collection of variations on how a poem does mean, on what to many may be the radical idea that poetry "brings out the actual quality of what our senses perceive and what our hearts feel about the perception." Even while the impulses of his discussion lead him to detailed examination of poems or passages from Whitman or Williams or Paul Blackburn, Rosenthal never loses sight of the fact that paraphrase and summary and statement are pale versions of the many communications that go on between reader and poem. Rosenthal engages us by pointing out...

(The entire section is 810 words.)