Introducing the Dante Papers Trilogy:
Introductory Papers on Dante
Further Papers on Dante
The Poetry of Search and the Poetry of Statement
The Poetry of Search, with which the book opens, puts forward the suggestion that controversy about what kind of thing poetry ought to be has tended to overlook the fact that there are two kinds of poetry, corresponding roughly to the categories of Romantic and Classical but which she prefers to describe as the Poetry of Search and the Poetry of Statement. The poet of search writes to find out what he feels--Keats is an example--and the poet of statement writes to tell what he knows--and here Dante is the master. Dante the Maker, which follows, discusses two examples of this method as poet of statement: First, how the whole of the Paradiso is built like a bridge between the first and the last terrains, and how roads from all the other parts of the poem run together to one point from which to pass over that bridge; secondly, how from a single unadorned statement in the seventh canto the reader who shares Dante's background may construct a whole labyrinth of associated imagery, turning and returning perpetually upon the central affirmation of fact in which a whole complex of meanings lies implicit.