Master of Arts (MA)
Semester of Degree Completion
In his article "Wrong Turning in American Poetry," Robert Bly believes that American poetry has been lead astray by the likes of Eliot, Pound, Moore, and Williams. He feels that the main failing of American poetry is its lack of inward, spiritual life. It is the Spanish speaking poets that Bly looks to as the true path-finders of spiritual poetry. If Bly believes that poets like Eliot and Williams were responsible for steering American poetry down the wrong path, it is a foreigner, Charles Simic, who will give American poetry the right turn it needs.
What Simic has been able to see, that other poets have failed to recognize, is poetry's ability to travel: its ability to pass national boundaries and survive on its images not on its geographical origins. His poetry forces its readers to look at the things around them in a way they never have before. His poems are filled with objects like shoes, forks, and axes that transcend national boundaries and, take on new meanings to the reader.
In order to change our preconceived ideas of these things, Simic shakes up our expectations by bringing his poems alive through myth and ritual. (He feels "The aim is to present the known in terms of the unknown and recover its mythical potential.") And in keeping with this aim, stones have secret, ancient lives stirring deep inside them, brooms know the future and the past, and shoes reflect our inner lives.
Simic takes such objects as these and traces them back to a primitive time, a time of myth and ritual. By going back and searching for those primitive origins, he fuses myth and reality together, thus bringing the object closer to the self, closer to each of us. With a common object like the fork, the poet is able to show the object slowly evolve into an extended metaphor for man himself. In the poems we see the object change from a mere thing into an extension, a part of man. Man and object become one, and by forcing us to view the object in new and different ways, he forces us to see ourselves, to explore our beginnings.
The poet has given us a new poetry by stripping away, through the use of myth, our preconceived ideas about the object. This is a poetry that survives on the strength of its images. It is a poetry that claims no country or nationality; rather it lives inside each of us, everywhere.
Clark, Denise, "Charles Simic: Trends Toward an International Poetry" (1982). Masters Theses. 2941.