poetry dialectics

The oppositional pairs that come up in discussions of poetry – difficulty vs. accessibility, or sincerity vs. knowingness – are always discussed as though they are pressing questions for our time. But these dialectics have always been present. There have always been some poets who value innovation and others who would rather produce highly finished work in the established mode; there have always been some poets whose poems are intimate, and others who seem to hold their work slightly at arms length. The dominant style changes over time, but the tensions within it are of the same type. Looked at that way, very broad classifications like Avant Garde vs. School of Quietude look more like axes on a Myers-Briggs personality test than actual movements.

Hmm. Maybe in the morning I’ll be able to decide whether that’s a brilliant insight or a statement of the obvious.

My very own eggcorn

An eggcorn. Joseph Massey, when he commented on my comments on the New Sincerity, titled the post ‘Nevermind the bullocks, here comes The New Sincerity.’ Which I assumed was a cattle-related joke of some obscure kind, since the Sex Pistols album is in fact Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols.

‘Bollocks’ is slang for testicles, while ‘bullock’ is a castrated bull. But then another online American used the term, in the phrase “I think that’s bullocks”. So perhaps the misunderstanding is a common one. ‘Bollocks’ is used in Britain to mean something rather like ‘bullshit’, so that may have influenced people.

As a side-note, Rochester used ‘ballock’. From A Ramble in St James’s Park:

[…] Did ever I refuse to bear
The meanest part your lust could spare?
When your lewd cunt came spewing home
Drenched with the seed of half the town,
My dram of sperm was supped up after
For the digestive surfeit water.
Full gorged at another time
With a vast meal of slime
Which your devouring cunt had drawn
From porters’ backs and footmen’s brawn,
I was content to serve you up
My ballock-full for your grace cup, […]

I wonder if after/water was a true rhyme in the C17th.

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