Leaving Things Out

James Longenbach

in The Resistance to Poetry

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2004 | ISBN: 9780226492490
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226492513 | DOI:
Leaving Things Out

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  • Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)


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This chapter discusses omissions in poetry. It suggests that the job of interpretation—what in fact we're doing when we interpret—is to supply what the poem has appeared to omit, and our continuing interest in a poem turns on its resistance to our efforts. While poems cannot help but leave things out, and while the job of interpretation is in some sense to supply what the poem has appeared to omit, we return to poems when they make our job difficult. Poems show us how it feels to like trouble.

Keywords: poems; poetry; omission; interpretation

Chapter.  3636 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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