Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Great Regulars: But to make that poem a modern poem,

the kind of poem that speaks immediately and naturally to us even a century later, something more is required: the kind of modesty and forbearance that knows the danger of the pathetic fallacy, and uses nature metaphorically only with a quiet, ironic reticence. What we learn about [Edward] Thomas from this poem is that he is the kind of man who sees the winter prolonged in the spring, death counterfeiting life, and takes a bitter satisfaction in the sight.

As [Matthew] Hollis shows, Thomas was at the heart of the Georgian milieu.

from Adam Kirsch: New Republic: The Greatest English Poet You Haven't Heard of


In other words, they know what they need the Bible to show; their problem is how to find what must already be there.

And the rabbis know the answer is there because the Torah is unlike every other document in the world, since it alone was authored (or dictated) by God. God is absolute, and he introduces a kind of absoluteness into the text that it would be absurd to expect to find in merely human productions. Humans may use words randomly, picking the ones that come to hand; but God is omniscient, and everything he does has a purpose. Once this idea is accepted, gezeirah shavah becomes not just rational but necessary. Of course God intends the linkages that tradition has identified: To say otherwise would be to say that God writes like a human being.

from Adam Kirsch: Tablet: The Talmud's Absolute Value


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