An English student’s golden rule.

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Who is to say what these authors meant

When they wrote their novels, their poems and plays?

The English student is never content

Until everything’s decoded, every word, every phrase.

But why do we do this? We can’t know the author’s mind

The authors would be appalled by the meanings we’ve assigned.

 

It seems we work backwards: we think of points first,

Then we twist words and phrases to mean what we need.

We mould and we bend, we deform and coerce

And words that don’t fit, we dismiss and don’t read.

Look deeply enough and you’ll find some support

For any idea, just remember: distort!

 

 

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I don’t like Freud.

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I’m an English student who doesn’t like poetry.

That’s slightly blasphemous, wouldn’t you agree?

I hated poems until I did find

The Earl of Rochester. Oh what a mind!

So much scandal and sex and general debasement

I stared at the page with the utmost amazement!

I’d finally found a poet I liked

So I turned to the criticism while I was still psyched!

 

The criticism was logical, interesting too!

So much useful information, I wasn’t sure what to do!

I wrote and I wrote, absorbing the wisdom

Nothing could stop me, it was really quite awesome.

Then I saw a phrase that brought me to a halt,

A phrase that critics always seem to resort to as default:

‘Freudian analysis’. My most hated theory.

My demeanour at this point was far from cheery.

 

Just because Freud had a thing for his mum

Doesn’t mean we should adopt his rule of thumb.

Every poem, every novel and every play

Is now dissected in a Freudian way.

Critics always seem to find things to support it

Yet little of their logic seems to actually fit.

Not everything leads back to penis envy

Critics: think of something else and stop making me angry!

 

I threw the book of criticism down

Stared at it for a minute, face locked in a frown.

Rochester’s writing is crude and full of sex

But it doesn’t mean that his personality reflects

Freudian theories with tenuous links!

Do critics not care what anyone else thinks?

Not every text needs analysis by Freud

Sometimes it is best to just simply avoid.

 

And yes, it’s ironic that I’ve written in rhyme.

By making my points obvious, I’m emphasising the crime

That most poets commit in hiding what they mean.

See how much easier it is when the point is clearly seen?

How clever is that? I’ve clearly explained TWO things!

How often does that happen in poetic musings?

I’ll admit I’ve never written a poem before

And that explains why this one is so poor.

 

 

Sorry.