Abstract I try to rejuvenate Cleanth Brooks’s old thesis about the ‘heresy of paraphrase.’ This I do by analysing a couple of well-known poems and by performing. which Mr. Cleanth Brooks has called “the heresy of paraphrase.” What Mr. Bowra does, and does very well, is to give us what the poet talks about in so far as it. “the poem, if it be a true poem, is a simulacrum of reality by being an experience rather than any mere statement about experience or any.

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In a poem, form and content are inseparable, that is why, poem cannot be reduced to a prose.

If we possess propositional knowledge of a given X, then we can describe X adequately by putting forth a series of true propositions about the nature of it. No, because the difference between prose and what cleznth call ‘poetry’ would be so unclear that the inhabitants of P.

Besides being tacit, knowledge by familiarity is autotelic, i.

The Heresy of Paraphrase by Cleanth Brooks

It is important to emphasize that this type of knowledge has nothing to do with the traditional empiricist notion of perceptual knowledge. The darling of the New Critics, T. In the last lines of a poem ‘the Homeric voice’ is suddenly silenced and a modern voice speaks instead. Obviously, knowing that a given sound is the sound of a clarinet is a clanth brand jeresy knowledge from that of knowing how to play the instrument.

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The Heresy of Paraphrase

Tophi Books,p. And when we explicate a text we try to make it easier to understand by using a different set of words to say the same thing but in a clearer manner. In the lyrics of the Beatles’ song ‘She loves you,’ the core essential meaning seems to be that A is telling B that B heresj thinks that his girlfriend does not love him any more, but that is not right, etc.


Eliot ‘s influence as both poet and critic. I think it is high time cleant take a look at Cleanth Brooks’s way of defending the theory of heresy. I take my chance at maintaining that this and everything else I say in this article holds for poetry in general in our empirical world, not just poetry in our epoch and culture.

Pound’s poem can therefore be subsumed under my definition of a non-paraphrasable text. It is a structure of gesture and attitude, it is wrapped in emotions, and it has its own poetic universe constituting its romantic structure. For example, the case of king Oedipus in Sophocles Oedipus Rex. For Duchamp’s “Fountain” is whatever it is by virtue of being an implicit attack on prevalent notions of art.

If this is the case, then form and content cannot be separated in any clear-cut manner, so abstracting the content the message from the poem is a risky and none too rewarding business. Its rhythm, style, sound, images, emotional flavour and intellectual aspects, the denotations and connotations of its words, and even its content and graphic aspects, are inseparable. Brooks argued that meaning in poetry is irreducible, because “a true poem is a simulacrum of reality Those notions would be quite different in the possible world discussed.


Though Brooks applied this theory to his reading ths poetry from many periods, subsequent literary scholars have suggested that the doctrine was shaped by the aesthetics of modernist literature. Further, such a description would consist of a series of propositions.

If we say “your skin is white” for black people it creates verbal irony. My aim is to show that there is more than a grain of truth in the thesis that paradigmatic examples of poetry cannot be rephrased in any satisfactory manner. It is time to sum up this article in a few words: Essays about poetry New Criticism essays.

Heresy of paraphrase

The reason is that there could have been a convention saying that a man’s name must be mentioned first because males are more important than females. This page was last edited paraphrse 17 Januaryat Brooks thinks that a poem is not a scientific proposition.

Add to this the importance of metaphors in a host of poems and the difficulties even impossibilities of paraphrasing metaphors, and the thesis of heresy seems quite plausible. In more male chauvinist times than ours, paraphrasing ‘John and Mary went home’ as ‘Mary and John went home’ would perhaps not quite have captured the original.

Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Thirdly, I think that the possibility of paraphrasability is built into the very concept of a linguistic expression of an empirical theory.