Quotation by Stephen Spender

Critics of visual arts and of music describe in words—that is to say, a system of signs other than those made by brushes on canvas or chisels into stone or notes of music—those characteristics of painting or sculpture or music which can be described or analysed. Visual artists and composers can disregard critics on the ground that the medium of verbal criticism bears so indirect a relation to the medium in which they make something. Poets are in a different situation. With the development of so-called scientific methods of criticism they are made ever conscious that criticism of poetry is in the same medium of work as the art which they practise. "Close analysis" is useful to critics and readers. But for the poet there is the danger of disintegration of poetry into paraphrase, examination of technique, influences, all analysed in the language of criticism.
Stephen Spender (1909–1995), British poet, critic. "Tradition-Bound Literature and Traditionless Painting," The Struggle of the Modern, University of California Press (1963).
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