Understanding poetry

A gentleman commented on one of my poems which I had cited as an example of the use of minimalism in poetry analogous to its use in photography a few days ago. He perhaps thought it was not a good idea for the poet himself to offer commentary on his own poem. The argument was that it was for the reader to construct meaning and the poet’s explanation would unnecessarily restrict the freedom of the reader to arrive at his own interpretation . He of course was right in point of principle but he surely missed the point that I was not offering a commentary or a literary criticism of the poem but merely cited it as an example of the use of minimalism as I practised it. In the process he touched upon an important point ,namely that the poet is not the final authority on constructing the true meaning of a poem because there is no such thing as a true meaning .Words have a fantastic autonomy of their own and the moment the poet has released his work for the inspection and scrutiny of the reader he has no more control over it and it is for the reader to arrive at the meaning .Even if that means the reader is getting away from the intended meaning of the poem .Actually there is no such thing as the intended meaning which ,while it may exist at the time it is written , loses its existence or relevance.

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