Poetry in Algebraic Form and The New Critics
This is part six of my study on the concept of "close reading" in which I explore close reading in relation to "New Criticism."
THE NEW CRITICS
Brooks and Warren in Understanding Poetry had "maddeningly tautological" definitions of form and structure. Form is "'the arrangement of various elements to give a single effect'", which Voigt essentially agrees with. However, "'the structure of a work is its total make-up, its form'" (119).
In The Well Wrought Urn Cleanth Brooks stated the principle unity which informs the structure of poetry "'seems to be one of balancing and harmonizing connotations, attitudes and meanings.'" Also, form, according to Voigt, was "given pride of place" with Brooks and Warren ("the textbooks"); the tracking of the "'concentration and intensification of of experience which depends upon on emphasis of the formal qualities of a poem' (Approaches to Literature)" (120).
However, there is more than the "'essential structure (as distinguished from the rational or logical structure) or a poem'" more than the "'pattern of resolutions and balances and harmonizations, developed through a temporal scheme' (Well Wrought Urn)" (121) that makes the elements of a poem.
The poem consists of the "signifiers" as defined in discourse but also "compression and song will freight the signifiers with additional , usually emotive information. Voigt does not liken this directly to her form/structure/texture definitions but I liken the "signifiers" to the texture, the "compression" to the structure and "song" to the form. The combination and application to the whole of a poem is what makes a poem a poem and not just a bunch of words. She also quotes Ransom regarding the "signs" in science have no other purpose than to refer to the "semantical object" but in art the signs are "icons"; they refer to objects but also resemble or imitate these (122).