詩歌批評學生傾向於嘗試從詩歌中撬出一種真實含義


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此網站已收到以下問題:Two Interpretations of Robert Herrick's “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time”Interpretation of “The Catcher in the Rye” by J. D. Salinger(從字面上詢問是否存在"官方解釋")以及基於多項選擇題的問題(例如What is the effect of using “silver” to describe the “horn” ... )。這些問題的共同之處在於,假設文學文本只能具有一種正確的含義或解釋,就像數學方程式只有一種正確的解決方案一樣。

這使我想起了我曾經讀過的一首詩,其中的敘述者大概是教詩的人,並且批評了這樣一個事實,即許多讀者(可能是學生)傾向於像警察審訊那樣處理詩歌,而不喜歡欣賞詩歌。這首詩是用英語寫的,很可能是美國作家寫的。我不到五年前就在網上閱讀了該書。

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This is ‘Introduction to Poetry’ (1988) by Billy Collins, which ends with:

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

I don’t know if Collins deliberately intends it, but there seems to be some irony here. Waterskiing is not easy, and waterskiing with one hand (so that you can wave with the other) is very hard. If you want your students to be able to perform a difficult skill (one-handed waterskiing, or interpreting poetry) with grace and ease, you are going to have to teach them, starting with the basics.