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By Ashbery, John; Ashbery, John - Critique et interprétation; Herbert, George; Herbert, George <> - Critique et interprétation; Parmigianino; Whitman, Walt; Whitman, Walt <> - Critique et interprétation; Ashbery, John; Vendler, Helen; Whitman, Walt; Herbert,

When a poet addresses a residing person--whether buddy or enemy, lover or sister--we realize the expression of intimacy. yet what impels poets to jump throughout time and area to talk to invisible listeners, looking an amazing intimacy--George Herbert with God, Walt Whitman with a reader sooner or later, John Ashbery with the Renaissance painter Francesco Parmigianino? In Invisible Listeners, Helen Vendler argues that such poets needs to invent the language that would enact, at the web page, an intimacy they lack in life.

Through brilliantly insightful and gracefully written readings of those 3 nice poets over 3 varied centuries, Vendler maps out their relationships with their selected listeners. For his half, Herbert revises the standard "vertical" handle to God in want of a "horizontal" one-addressing God as a pal. Whitman hovers in a occasionally erotic, occasionally quasi-religious language in conceiving the democratic camerado, who will, following Whitman's instance, locate his real self. And but the camerado may be changed, in Whitman's verse, by way of the final word invisible listener, loss of life. Ashbery, looking a fellow artist who believes that paintings continuously distorts what it represents, reveals he needs to trip to the distant prior. In tones either smooth and skeptical he addresses Parmigianino, whose striking self-portrait in a convex reflect furnishes the poet with either a concept and a precedent for his personal innovations.

By developing the varieties and speech of excellent intimacy, those poets set forth the opportunity of a extra whole and passable human interchange--an ethics of relation that's uncoerced, realizing, and free.

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Additional info for Invisible listeners : lyric intimacy in Herbert, Whitman, and Ashbery

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The sleepers are unaware of the poet’s presence as he enters their very beds: I go from bedside to bedside. . I sleep close with the other sleepers, each in turn, 40 Walt Whitman I dream in my dream all the dreams of the other dreamers, And I become the other dreamers. “The Sleepers” [LG 1855, lines 29–31; p. 724] However great the imagined intimacy may be of this stealthy insinuation of self into the dreams of others, such unconscious commerce can offer no mutuality or reciprocity; and so, in a further fantasy, Whitman invents a mobile crowd of metaphysical aerial companions, very much awake, with whom he can disport himself.

He knows, certainly, that God made him, eyes and all; and he knows “who bore the blame” for his sin. Love’s smiling replies are not ones of instruction—after all, the saved soul, already admitted to the banquet of the just, knows all he needs to know. Rather, Love’s remarks function as reassurance. Of course you are not “a guest worthy to be here,” Love agrees, because no one can deserve Heaven; so that when the sinner says that what he lacks is “a guest . . ” Love’s “shall be” (not, significantly, the “will be” of futurity) represents the salvific will of God and its efficacious means, the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit.

However, the intimacy of “Heaven” is intellectual and 22 George Herbert linguistic, pertaining to the soul rather than to the body (which is present only in the insubstantial “higher” sense of hearing). In Herbert’s deepest investigation into the actions, gestures, and language of intimacy, the model he presents is that of physical and emotional sustenance in one, eating and drinking in the house of a Friend (whose name is immediately given as “Love”). Here, Herbert’s speaker is a guest; he first encounters the deliberately ungendered Friend as the host at the door,11 bidding welcome, gently putting aside the guest’s protestations of physical and spiritual unworthiness, and—to the guest’s determination to take the lowly place of servant—replying that his role is rather that of desired guest: Love (III) Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back, Guiltie of dust and sinne.

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