Paraclete, part four - Voigt's Elements & the details of them

Paraclete, part four - Voigt's Elements & the details of them

VOIGT'S ELEMENTS OF A PIECE OF WRITING (mostly poetry)

Ransom also asserts that the difference between local imagery (texture) of a poem and the logical structure is absolute. On page 123, Voigt gets into a very detailed (dizzying) explanation of how developments in neuroscience, since the 1940, disproves this assertion. The word "flower" and the word "rose" "triggers other synapses, in other language centers, accessing new information." She maps out part of what the mind is doing when processing the word "rose."


When someone reads "O Rose, thou art sick" they are processes several things all at once. These things, Voigt says, are what contribute to the texture of the line. They include:
  • diction
  • syntax
  • choice of pronoun (thou)
  • stressed and unstressed syllables
  • sounds - long vowels, hard consonants of "rose"
  • sensory information of "rose"
  • cultural information of "rose"
  • attitude in the observation (tone of line)
  • kinetic response - to pitch, timbre, tempo, inflection
Texture is "what puts us inside the poem, synapses firing" (124). These are some of the things that I will be looking at when I do close readings.

If texture is all the things listed above (in addition to other details which I'll lay out in a moment), structure is the organization of all of those aspects as laid out in a poem. Looking closely at the organization and its effect is another aspect of the close reading. So, it isn't just the observation of the sensory information evoked from the word "rose" but also the way the word is presented in the poem, whether that way has these elements of texture:
  • abstract or concrete
  • precise or subjective
  • denoted or connoted
  • sensory or referential
  • singular or recurring
Structure is "the purposeful order in which materials are released to the reader"(124). This is differentiated from form. A grocery list in alphabetical order and the same list in order of the set-up of the grocery store are still the same form with the same materials. However, the alphabetical list is without a functional structure. Form, in poetry, "creates a pattern in [the] materials, to establish a pleasing proportion, balance, unity -- 'a single effect' -- in otherwise overwhelmingly various texture" (124-5).

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