Howard Nemerov: Mimicry and other Tropes

Wyatt Prunty

in “Fallen from the Symboled World”

Published in print April 1990 | ISBN: 9780195057867
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199855124 | DOI:
Howard Nemerov: Mimicry and other Tropes

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When we mention mimicry we think “of” a thing imitated, but “of” is a middle term that both holds a thing off and holds it close. It may indicate a point or direction by which one reckons, a derivation, a cause, the constitutive material of a thing, belonging or possession, a separation, an object of some action, the place in time of a particular action. There is both overlap and distance created by the polynomial function that “of” introduces between a subject and its object, or between an object and its copy. The relationship between the contemporary poet who employs synaposematic mimicry and the object imitated involves all these meanings. The poet’s mimicry carries these meanings the way a primitive shepherd’s notched bone was used for reckoning his sheep or the way a Mesopotamian egg-shaped envelope with clay balls inside it was used for the same purpose. At first mimicry carries us through an ordinal sequence of particulars; taken in the aggregate, however, it becomes a cardinal summary that is both inclusive and separative. This chapter first takes Nemerov’s poems on their own terms, and then considers how by synaposematism and other modes of thought they investigate, separate, deflect, make safe, and generate wholeness.

Keywords: contemporary poetry; trope; mimicry; synaposematism

Chapter.  18506 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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