Delingpole on the Virtue of Clarity in Poetry
In the article "What you learn when you learn a poem by heart," (The Spectator, September 10, 2016), James Delingpole tells us that, "Like the writer [of the poem], you're compelled to weigh each word" and thereby clarify the poem for yourself, which is a good thing . . . except:
Alan Bennett . . . has a . . . sophisticated take on this [issue of clarity] in . . . . a 1990 Channel 4 series called Poetry In Motion and I urge you to track down a copy, because his aperçus are quite brilliant. He writes: 'An artist can be diminished by his virtues and one of [John] Betjeman's virtues is clarity. However much the reader welcomes clarity, some of the most memorable moments in poetry occur when it isn't clear what the poet is talking about. Auden has many such moments, but Betjeman never, because he is always sure, and that's the penalty of being lucid.'Exactly! A perfectly lucid aperçu!