Is about One Living Thing... Part 2
"Having roses continually strewn
on her is excessive," Mr. Siegel commented. "Two roses are enough." The
next lines are:
Mr. Siegel objected to this second line very much and showed technically why it is not poetic. "There are three words," he said "that make for collision: bathed, smiles, glee. Smiles are more reposeful than glee. The three words have their fists at each other." He pointed out that it was inappropriate as a description of an aristocratic young lady--it would take a great humorist like Mark Twain to bathe the world in smiles of glee.
Geist, a Dog
Stated Mr. Siegel:
I think this is sincere. One thing that took Matthew Arnold: theIn the following stanza Arnold, speaking of the qualities in Geist, refers to the mighty line of Virgil, "Sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt"--"these are the tears of mortal things:"
Commented Mr. Siegel, "Some
dogs, not all of them, have that liquid eye, which can be called 'the Correggio
look.' The attention [of Matthew Arnold] here is good." In the tenth stanza
Here, Arnold is saying that man invents heaven and immortality because he finds his lot hard to bear. This, the class learned, shows Matthew Arnold saw religion very differently from Christopher Smart, who saw such wide religious significance in his cat Jeoffrey. There is a little mocking of immortality in these lines. Arnold was left dubious and uncertain by the question of immortality we learned--he would give up immortality for neatness.
Some of the most moving lines
of this poem recall the everyday moments of Geist in the Arnold household:
Pointing to the loving details Mr. Siegel explained technically why this is poetry:
The question is whether life given definition or oneness and shown to have multiplicity, diversity corresponds to art itself....This poem has feeling and feeling that is seen. It doesn't have the mistakes of many poems about dogs--the brimming over.In the discussion following this lecture I was very much affected by what Class Chairman Ellen Reiss said:
Mr. Siegel did see the meaning of the world in an animal and then there is an immediate warmth. There's a feeling about an actual living creature with enormous tenderness. Mr Siegel did what art does, he brought out life.And I close my report with these sentences, which ended the lecture:
Jeoffrey and Geist said something of poetry....what they have to say about poetry should be given worthy attention and the purpose of this talk is to grant their request.