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By Ashbery, John; Ashbery, John - Critique et interprétation; Herbert, George; Herbert, George <> - Critique et interprétation; Parmigianino; Whitman, Walt; Whitman, Walt <> - Critique et interprétation; Ashbery, John; Vendler, Helen; Whitman, Walt; Herbert,
When a poet addresses a residing person--whether buddy or enemy, lover or sister--we realize the expression of intimacy. yet what impels poets to jump throughout time and house to talk to invisible listeners, looking an incredible intimacy--George Herbert with God, Walt Whitman with a reader sooner or later, John Ashbery with the Renaissance painter Francesco Parmigianino? In Invisible Listeners, Helen Vendler argues that such poets needs to invent the language that may enact, at the web page, an intimacy they lack in life.
Through brilliantly insightful and gracefully written readings of those 3 nice poets over 3 varied centuries, Vendler maps out their relationships with their selected listeners. For his half, Herbert revises the standard "vertical" tackle to God in prefer of a "horizontal" one-addressing God as a chum. Whitman hovers in a occasionally erotic, occasionally quasi-religious language in conceiving the democratic camerado, who will, following Whitman's instance, locate his real self. And but the camerado may be changed, in Whitman's verse, by means of the last word invisible listener, loss of life. Ashbery, looking a fellow artist who believes that paintings regularly distorts what it represents, unearths he needs to trip to the distant earlier. In tones either gentle and skeptical he addresses Parmigianino, whose remarkable self-portrait in a convex reflect furnishes the poet with either a conception and a precedent for his personal innovations.
By growing the types and speech of perfect intimacy, those poets set forth the potential for a extra entire and passable human interchange--an ethics of relation that's uncoerced, realizing, and free.
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Additional resources for Invisible listeners : lyric intimacy in Herbert, Whitman, and Ashbery
These “nimble ghosts” play hide and seek with him (“cache and cache again” from the French name for hide and seek, cache-cache) in three elemental realms—ground, sea and air. His genii loci are hidden from normal perception, but not from the poet: “from me . . ” His intimacy with them is mutual, and is one of playful status-exchange; he is their “boss,” he says, but they make him their “pet” besides, as they in turn assume authority over him. These equivocal spirits run ahead of him, lifting their “cunning covers” for him and him alone in a gesture of sexual intimacy: Well do they do their jobs, those journeymen divine, Only from me can they hide nothing and would not if they could.
The ﬂuid Whitmanian self becomes, when oriented toward a future listener, unusually expansive and porous, and one of the attractions of Whitman’s intimacy with the invisible is the discovery of the many Whitmans it brings forth (“I am large. . I contain multitudes. . / I resist anything better than my own diversity” [“Song of Myself,” LG 1855, lines 1315–16; p. 347]. Whitman had begun his career as a balladeer and populist exhorter of others. ”). Although he continued to resort, often enough, to either the homiletic tone of the preacher or the rhetorical tone of the orator, 35 CHAPTER TWO his genius was to prefer, to these more public modes of the pulpit and the rostrum, a private tone more suited to the seclusion of an intimate space.
The proudly quiet claims of this are succeeded by a self-epitaph, more philosophically complete, in which the poet is shown, when alive, to have been consciously aware of the body’s foundational role in his individual being, and its equally important role in the subsequent unfolding of his life: That I was I knew was of my body, and what I should be I knew I should be of my body. The “you” to whom Whitman’s comforting “I too” is now directed has narrowed to a singular rather than a plural addressee, and is set with Whitman among “the rest” of his fellow-humans: It is not upon you alone the dark patches fall, The dark threw its patches down upon me also.