Spring 1952 • Vol. XIV No. 2 NonfictionApril 1, 1952 |

Why Critics Don’t Go Mad

It gives me a mild astonishment when I discover that critics of poetry do not really go mad. That seems to be the honorable prerogative of the poets, in whose train the critics follow, though not that far. But the critics have a great and public stake in poetry, and in the fate of those fluent existences, epiphanies, and "levels of meaning" which poets call into being. Especially the modern critic; who thinks he must know the ultimate reality of the poetic visions, and who may say if he likes that his precursor, the Ur-modern, was Coleridge, whose inquiries into the nature of poetry were frankly metaphysical, or religious. So our gifted critic will get himself quickly into the intangibles of the subject, and thence into metaphysics, that universe which it is very hard to traverse, where the treacherous skies seem always about to thin out and clear, and the jostling elements seem about to precipitate their solid substances and assume fixed places. But these are events which do not. r

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