Ashok R. Kelkar







I From the being to the meaning of a poem


II The Meaning of a poem


III From the meaning of a poem to the meaning of poetry


IV The Meaning of poetry


V A Glance at the Western and Sanskrit critical traditions












Using Archibald Macleish’s lines ‘A poem should not be /but be’ (Arts poetica) as a point of departure we have discussed elsewhere  (Kelkar 1969) how there is some scope for a divorce between the being of a poem and the meaning a poem.  Poems are in this respect unlike money, of which economists are in the habit of saying, Money is what money does.  Not so with a poem.  Indeed a poem may begin to act upon us and make contact with us well before its meaning begins to slowly dawn upon us.  Poems are in this respect rather like paintings, musical pieces, and the like.  Poetry is one of the fine arts after all.


If poetry an art, it is also a use of language.  If birds peck at the fruit in  a picture, we shall feel amused, even feel like admiring the painting for this—but if a person tries to bite at the fruit in the picture, we won’t be amused, we will even be irritated.  But if a person were to be similarly deceived by a poem?  Let’s say a boy offers a girl he knows a love poem to read and the girl takes this love poem to be a love letter.  Then we shall find the girl’s behaviour an entirely excusable mistake.  Indeed we may even judge it not to be a mistake at all but a shrewd guess on bar part.  In so doing we are recognizing the affinity between poems and the ordinary instance of language use in which something is being said to somebody.


Are poems incurably two-sided in nature?  Perhaps so. In any case they wouldn’t lend themselves easily to definition.  Either the proposed definition will be rich and penetrating but controversial or it will be non controversial but rather superficial and lacking in meat.  One may feel driven to conclude, in philosophical desperation, that this is an essentially contested concept (Gallie 1956) and that instead of looking for something common and peculiar to all poems one should perhaps be content with finding some family resemblance between poems.


Caution will further lead us to make a couple of useful and pertinent distinction.  The first distinction is between the poem as a linguistic text and the poem as work of art that has been made possible through style in the use of language.  When one listens to or reads a poem in a language one knows one is very probably receiving a text.  Should one fail to be sensitive to poetry, then that’s all that one will receive.  One will fail to encounter a poem, the text will fail to symbolize the work of poetic art.  When the encounter does occur, the text has success fully symbolized the work of art.  What does the work of art in turn symbolize?  But we must not presuppose that the work of art should symbolize something beyond itself.  Such a presupposition will simply beg the question – or rather beg one of the many moot questions that surround poems -- and poetry.  We must first ask whether a work of art at all symbolizes something beyond itself.

    This brings us to the second distinction to be made by way of caution, namely, the one between individual poems (Kavitā) and the institution known as poetry (Kavitā) in which we participate when we encounter a poetic text as a poem.  Such a separation will enable us, for example, to deny that poems have any function and yet accept that poetry has functions.  It will also enable us to distinguish between the meaning of a poem and the meaning of poetry is the meaning of a whole body of poems available to a community.

    Our attempt to link the being of a poem and the meaning of a poem makes us aware of certain alternative positions that we could adopt as recipients of poems, as readers or listeners, as critics.  Those of us who are more impressed by the artistic status of poetry tend to take up position 1.

(1)(a)  A poem need be only in order to delight and evince aesthetic quality.


     We shall call this critical Hedonism.  Those who are more impressed, on the contrary, by the linguistic status of poetry tend to take a different position.

 (2) (a) A poem need be only in order to mean, to communicate some content.

We shall call position 2 critical Didacticism.  The term didacticism is to be taken here in here in a very broad sense so as to include ethical or political or religious or other varieties.   (We shall make do with this rather unsatisfactory word simply because English does not permit us to say content-ism.  And then there are those who start with something like the hedonist perception but also realize that the recipient of a poem will just keep packing at the fruit and also that the poetic delight is essentially a free bonus (to seek delight is often to lose it).  They retreat somewhat to position 3, critical formalism. 


(3)  (a) A poem should not mean but be, have a certain form of its own.

According to this position, the being of a poem is its own reward; the stress on autonomy is a stress on form.  But then there are also those who, starting with position 2, with the perception that the poem has to mean, also realize that poems are no passive instruments of communication to be set aside when done with but rather that they grow upon us like persons, even delighting us when we are in their company, retreat somewhat to position 4, critical vitalism.


(4)         (a) A poem should be in order to mean, should be a form of life.

What is it for a poem to be alive? It simply means that making a poem is an integral part of its maker’s life and that encountering a poem is an integral part of its recipient’s life.  Without this capacity to be so alive, a poem cannot possibly mean, cannot possibly communicate fully and deeply and such communication is the very raison    d’être of a poem.


     We have seen how position 1 yields to position 3 and position 2 yields to position 4.  But this does not bring us to the end of our quest for possible critical positions from which to handle the divorce between being and meaning that is peculiar to poems.  There are, finally, those who begin to see that the retreats to positions 3 and 4 are retreats before the essential bipolarity of a poem.  The Hindi writer Kamaleshwar once said that an author has two powers: saying something and not saying anything (lekhak kī do shaktiyān hotī hain ek kuchh kahnā, dūsrī kuchh nahīn  kahnā).  They take up position 5.


(5) (a) A poem should mean for it to be, should impart a certain form to life.

Such is critical Bipolarism.  They agree with position 3 in not asking further what the reason for its being is; but they also agree with position 4 that a poem has to mean.  This position is not an uneasy compromise between two claims, rather it is a position in its own right in insisting that a poem cannot possibly fully be unless it means.  The being and the meaning of a poem consist in the way a poem imparts a form to life.  A poem is a poem and not another thing – the poet observantly participates in life and tries to say the ordinarily unsayable and in exploring the possibilities of language the poet also explores the possiblities of life.  (It was not for nothing that the 13th century Marathi poet, Jnaneshvar, in his poetic commentary on the Bhagavadgī, Jñaneshvarī  says (6:36)



bolīn arūpāce rūpa dāvīna

  atindriya pari bhogavina

indriyān karavīn

(I)                 shall show in speech the form of the formless, cause the senses to partake of that which is beyond senses.   

In moving from positions 1 and 2 respectively through positions 3 and 4 to position 5 we have moved from the being of a poem to the meaning of a poem.                                        


 Of course these five positions do not represent all that there is to it about the essential contestability of the concept of poetry.  There are other moot questions, other parameters along which critical positions can differ from each other.  The universe of all critical position is not a confused medley, however, but an ordered matrix.  But at the same time the five positions must be seen to exhaust all the possibilities along one of these parameters, Any critical proposal along this parameter that is not covered by any of the five (for example, that a poem should not be but mean) will be a spurious, nonviable position to take.  Again, if any critical proposal seems to combine more than one position, it will be a case of a short-term or long-term critical shift or quite simply a case of critical failure or critical confusion.  As we are about to see, the five position do help to illuminate a number of problems in the understanding of what poems are like and what poetry is like.  In mathematical shoptalk they portions present non-trivial differences.






   We have already conceded that these positions are open to certain groupings.  Thus, for positions 1 and 3, saying why a text qualifies as a poem is a critical job that comes naturally.  The critical job, on the other hand, of saying why a poem qualifies as a great poem is one that comes more naturally to positions 2 and 4.  Before we move on to examine some of these groupings, it will be useful to clarify the notion of the meaning of a text, any text whether a poem or not.


             A linguistic text or message draws its meaning through its relationship with a larger domain – actually, with each of three domains that we shall call the Linguistic Domain, the Topical Domain, and the pragmatic Domain. (a) The internal meaning of a text derives from the way it fits into the domain of all the texts sharing the fits into the domain of the relevant topic (the universe of discourse of the scholostics of medieval Europe) and eventually into the set of same language, eventually into the domain of all languages sharing the same logic.  To say that the blackboard is soft or that the blackboard is not black is to fly in the face of the all possible topics.  (b) To say that the blackboard is purple or to ask someone to clean the blackboard because it is wet (or green or black) is to fly in the face of the T-domain.  (c) The pragmatic meaning of a text derives from the way it fits into the domain of the communication situation and eventually into the set of all possible communication situation.  The text performs a function in the situation, expresses the sender of the message, and impresses the receiver of the message.  For some-one to say orally (rather than write) that he cannot speak because he is dumb or for someone to report that he has a slight headache and a little fever in answer to the question how he is doing (rather than the question how his health is at the moment) is to fly in the face of the P-domain.


            In looking at the meaning of a poem one is looking at its internal and external meaning.  In looking at the meaning of poetry one is looking at its pragmatic meaning.  Consequently we have to take up three questions here:



(i)                 What does a poem do to the language? (the internal meaning of a poem) (see 1b-5b below)

(ii)                What does a poem do with the world? (The external meaning of a poem) (see 1c-5c below)

(iii)              What does a poem do for and to its recipients and makers? (The pragmatic meaning of poetry) (see 1d-5d below)


What does a poem do to the language? It is pretty obvious that the poetic use of language differs from the other uses of language.  (Even poetry written “in the ordinary language of men”, as claimed by Wordsworth in the preface to Lyrical Ballads, is no exception).  The recipient of a poem is struck by the variety of meanings that a poem lends itself to: but some meanings are more plausible or implausible than other meanings, some recipients find certain meanings more plausible than do other recipients.  The recipient is also struck by the fact that some poems are strange, difficult and that some of these apparently obscure poems come to be less obscure as they grow upon us.  A poem set out or read out like prose is no longer a poem.  The maker of a poem soon realizes that a poem cannot be written to order and to prescribed rules, but that there is no getting away from the prosaic business of composing it in the head or on paper.  The language of poetry differs from ordinary language in that in poetry language patterns are subjected to selection and exclusion, extension and restriction, modification and distortion, revival and innovation.  To account for all these varied forms of deviation from ordinary language is to account for the transition from the poem as a linguistic text to the poem as a work of art.


            There are basically two ways of looking at this transition.  Either language is regarded as a means to an end with technique as the mediating link or language is regarded as material open to stylization with style as the shaping of this material.  Positions 1 and 2, Hedonism formalism, Vitalism, and Bipolarism accept the latter way.

(1)  (b) Language is a means to the poetic end.  Technique is a set of triggers Affecting the recipient’s response and these together make for delight.

            (2)   (b)  Language is a means to the poetic end.  Technique is a set of devices                              affecting the maker’s intent and these together make for                                                          communicative success.

(3) (b) Language is material open to stylization.  Style is the shaping of language    qualities and it makes a poem a unique self-contained form.  Technique is   he degree of success.

(4) (b)Language is material open to stylization.  Style is the shaping of language gestures and it makes a poem a vibrant form of life. Technique if the degree of success.

5) (b)   Language is material open to stylization.  Style is the shaping of          language qualities and gestures and it makes a poem a fusion of          language vehicle and experiential content in a unified form.           Technique is the degree of success.


For the hedonist, language in the maker’s plaything; but for the didacticism, it is simply the maker’s tool.  The formalist will invoke notions like Horace’s notion of decorum, Kshemendra’s notion of auchitya, the French notion of the mot just in explaining stylistic success; the vita list will invoke notions like authenticity, purposefulness in style in explaining stylist success; while the bipolarist will speak of the identity of the vehicle-form and the content-form as the exclusive destiny of stylistic success.  (I think Clive Bell’s very confused and confusing account of ‘significant form’ was an attempt at capturing this insight of the bipoharist – the confusion stemmed from the fact that his own position was not position 5 but position 4.  For a good mise au point see sparshott 1981.





     When we move to the question (ii), namely, what does a poem do with the world?, we also move in the direction of the meaning of poetry and away from the meaning of a poem.

     Anyone can see that it simply won’t do to pick the fruit off a poem and take a bite, however much the fabric of language may tempt us to do so.  We have actually anticipated the question: the text symbolizes the work of art; does the work of art point away from itself?  In other words, does it symbolize anything?

     There are basically two ways of answering this question.  These two ways can be conveniently embodied in two competing metaphors for giving an account of the poem as a work of art.  Either the poem is a hall of mirrors that multiplies images locking its meaning within and presenting an alternative to or intensification of reality or the poem is a room with a view presenting an imitation of or improvement on reality.  (The metaphors are modified from Krieger 1964: chapter 1.)  Position 1,3, and 5 accept the former way and positions 2,4, and 5 accept the latter way.  (Yes, position 5 cheerfully mixes the metaphors – the poem is both a hall of mirrors and a room with a view :)  Going the former way entails looking upon the symbolic counters of poetic language as play money; going the latter way entails looking upon the symbolic counters of poetic language as play money; going the latter way entails looking upon the symbolic counters of poetic language as money that is somehow real. (It may be noted in position 3, 4, 5 but that in respect of 1c-5c the alignment is positions 1, 3, 5 as opposed to positions 2, 4, 5.)


(1)   (c) The world in a poem is an alternative to or intensification of reality; it       is being offered for our delight.  Poetic technique has made this       possible.  The meaning of a poem is locked within.


(2)   (c) The world in a poem is an imitation of or improvement on reality; it is being offered for our progressive enlightenment.  Poetic technique reveals reality and /or promotes real action.  The meaning of a poem takes us away from itself.

(3)   (c) The world in a poem is an alternative to or intensification of reality; it       is being offered for our contemplation.  Poetic style has made this       possible.  The meaning of a poem is locked within.

(4)   (c) The world in a poem is an imitation of or improvement on reality; it is       being offered for our sudden illumination.  Poetic style helps the       recognition of reality and real action for what they are.  The meaning       of poem takes us away from itself.

(5)(c)   The world in a poem is both an alternative to or intensification of reality and an imitation of or improvement on reality; the world within reveals the hidden possibilities of the world without.  Poetic style imparts a form to the experiential content.  The meaning of a poem is both locked within and takes us away from itself.


    I cannot resist offering here another pair of metaphors.  John Wain (1955) points out that we find in the end that a poem is not a bridge after all that leads us to the opposite shore, but rather a bridge that turns out to be pier that gives us a glimpse of the deep waters.  This is as good a description as any of a critic moving from position 4                       to position 5.

     Relating a single poem to the pragmatic domain is not easy.   True, one has to find one’s way to answering certain specific questions.

            (iii A) How does a poem impress the recipient? (See 1e-5e below)

            (iii B) How does a poem express the maker? (See 1f-5f below)

            (iii C) What does a poem do to and for the world of its recipients and               makers? (See 1g-5g below)

However, before one contemplates answering these questions, one has to find some way of relating poetry as such (not this or that poem) to the envelope of human society and culture in their historical particularity.  After all poetic language and the listening-reading recipient of a poem and the speaking-writing maker of a poem all have their being within this envelope, within the total pragmatic domain (and not this or that communicative situation).  The pragmatic meaning of a poem can be understood only in context of the pragmatic meaning of poetry.  Given what we have found under (a) , (b), (c) it should not be too difficult to anticipate at this point what we are going to find under (d) – and eventually under (e), (f), (g).  One of the questions that we have to ask here is – the envelope of the making and the encountering of a poem obviously has a history; has the poem got a history?

(1)   (d) A poem has no history, so poetry has no history.  History is no more than a backdrop.  Society merely provides the takers for a poem and thus makes poetry possible.

(2)   (d) A poem has no history, so poetry has no history of its own.  Human history is also the history of poetry.  Society provides the poets and the takers for a poem and thus constitutes the condition of poetry.

(3)   (d) A poem has a history of its own, and of the company it has kept with other poems.  The history of poetry is the history of successive technical solutions to stylistic problems: it is a footnote to the history of the culture of a society.  Society provides the condition of the linguistic vehicle and the experiential content of poetry.

(4)   (d) A poem has a history of its own. And of the company it  has kept with its recipients.  It has a historical place in the world of man.  Human history is the ultimate condition of poetry.  The inner history of man is the history of man’s successive soundings of life.  The history of poetry is but a part of the inner history of man.

(5)   (d) A poem is a poem and not another thing.  True, the making and encountering of poems occurs within the cultural envelope of society.  Man strives to understood life and strives to like and enjoy what he finds there.  The history of poetry is a history of stylistic solut6ions to communicative problems.  It is a distinct chapter in the inner history of man.

From a consideration of the internal and external meanings of a poem we have moved to the meaning of poetry.  Having seen what poems means and in what sense poems and poetry have got a history if any, we are now in a position to see what poems do.  Have poems got a function? Has poetry got a function? All these of course are contested questions.


     What happens when the listener-reader encounters a poem? Obviously there are going to be differences between the effect on a listener and that on a reader.  But for our present purposes it will be best to ignore them and consider both the listener and the reader simply as recipients.  The recipients may come singly or in small knots of people or as large listening or reading publics.  Again, we are going to ignore the differences.  More pertinent for our present purposes will be the differences between two perspectives from which to consider the recipient of a poem.  In Sanskrit critical literature there are two terms in vogue – sāmājika (member of the audience of a play) found in the theory of poetry.  Is found theory and in of poetry, means a .  Perhaps one could say that Hedonists, Formalists, Bipolarists will find the term rasika more appropriate and Didacticists, Vitalists, Bipolarists will find the term sāmājika more appropriate.


(1)(e)  A poem does and should hyponitize the rasika.

(2)(e)  A poem does and should de-hypontize and enlighten the sāmājika

(3)(e)  A poem does and should refine and enrich the rasika and his taste.

(4)(e)  A poem does an should make sāmājika the more healthy and mature.

(5)(e)  A poem does an should at the same time refine and enrich the rasika and

and also make the sāmājika more healthy and mature.


            What happens when the maker of a poem creates a poem and this creation embraks on its career among the recipients?  What does a poem do to and for the poet?


(1)(f)  The poet participates in life, the poem expresses the poet’s dreams and pains.

(2)(f)  The poet observes life, the poem is a testimony to the poet’s disappointments and ideals.

(3)(f)  The poet is an observant participant in life, the poem is an intense testimony to the poet’s sensibility and creativity.

(4)(f)    The poet is an observant participant in life and the poem is an intense gesture of the poet of the poet which enacts the disappointments and ideals of the poet’s sāmājika (or addressees).

(5)(f)  The poet is an observant participant in life and the poem is a creative act in which the poet is trying to say that which is ordinarily unsayable.  By exploiting the possibilities of language the poet explores the possibilities of life.


            Before moving on to 1g-5g may not be out of place to spell out one of the implications of this emphasis (at 5f) on the exploitation of the possibilities language and the exploration of the possibilities of life.  The extreme experiments with language and the obsessed concern with the bizarre, the morbid, and the evil in human life is an inseparable aspect of modern poetry and indeed a good deal of modern fiction and drama. It is an aspect that neither traditional Western nor traditionally Indian literary theory provides for.  It is an aspect that is closely connected with the assertion of man’s freedom to say, what if I choose to be bizarre, morbid, evil?  It is as if the literary artist comes forward to say, I ‘ll tell you what.  Didn’t Thomas Hardy once say, “…in order to better be/You must exact a full look at the worst”?


            Finally, what does a poem do for and to the world of its recipients and makers who participate in the institution of poetry?  (we need not consider the critic separately from the recipients and makers: a critic is after all someone hidden in both all true recipients and all the true makers of poetry.  What a poem do for and to the world of its critics?  The answer a that question is but an aspect of the answers set out at (1-5e) (1-5f) and (1-5g).


(1)(g) Participation in poetry is for delight: it is almost a sort of play. It makes the recipient sensitive.  The poet serves the society.

(2)(g)  Participation in poetry is subject to a certain commitment to society.  It makes the recipient thoughtful, mindful of his commitment.  The poet serves the society.

(3)(g)   Participation in poetry is an autonomous activity that is at once free and ordered-it is its own reward and has a commitment to itself.  The poetry of a society is its enduring treasure and the society’s claim to immorality.

(4)(g)   Participation in poetry is no more than participation in life.  Poetry makes society more open to life, more life-oriented.

(5)(g)   The cultural-social envelope is certainly a condition for participation in poetry but does not wholly condition it.  What this activity takes form society it surely returns it with interest and this activity the members of the society mindful that there are more things in this world than are given within their ken.


            That is perhaps a good point to bring to a halt for the time being our search for the meaning of a poem and the meaning of poetry.  The reader may pause at this juncture and read up the stūras in a fresh order, namely, 1a, 1b, 1c 1d, 1e, 1f, 1g, 2a, 2b, … down to …5e, 5f, 5g.  This should serve to flesh out the five rough-and-ready labels we have attached to the five positions in commenting on (1-5a), namely critical Hedonsim, Critical Didacticism, Critical Formalism, Critical vitalism, and critical Bipolarism.





            We have already seen how specific apercus of critical relevance can be better ‘placed’ and therefore-no, not the more readily dismissed but the more lastingly appreciated.  Our uses of Krieger’s and Wain’s metaphors, the references to Clive Bell or Jnarenswar, and our use of the ancient Indian notions of Kāvyaparatyaksha (the world in a poem) and the medieval Scholastic’s universe of discourse are examples.  In the same vein one could place, say, Aristotle’s chatharsis and I. A. Richard’s balancing of emotions and impulses as ways of elaborating (4)(e) or the Russian (and Czech) formalists’ ostranniye (strangeness-better transated by Sanskrit valiksanya) as a way of elaborating (3)(b) ************************* or the Sanskrit art


            We may also in turn place the present proposal (for a five-way distinction between critical positions that one could possibly take in poetic theory in relating meaning to bring) within a larger perspective offered by the aesthetic of literature and of other fine arts.


            For the present our limited aim is to try and show how this scheme could be used in order to find one’s bearings among ancient and modern Western and classical Sanskrit critical positions.  (Let me remind the reader once more that there are undoubtly other ways of cutting the critical pipe in answer to other moot questions about poems and poetry.  One may ask, for instance, whether the making and encountering of poems is an activity and experience that is laukika and continuous with man’s other modes of activity and experience or whether there is a radical discontinuity or transcendence that renders poetic activity of and experience laukika and so separate them form ordinary activity and experience.  Two critics, both Hedonists, may thus find themselves on the opposite sides of the fence in answering this question, one holding a Secularist conception and the other a Transcedentalist conception of poetic delight.)


            The three important figures of ancient Western criticism are of course Plato, Aristotle, and the author of On the sublime, whom we shall agree to call Longinus.  Plato is a Didacticist, Aristotle a Vitalist, and Longinus a Bipolarist.


            Coming to modern Western criticism I can do no more than drop a few names (and, possibly in my hurry, drop a few bricks too).   A Marxist critic usually starts with position 2, but if he is already at home in poetry or times tends to move to position 4. thank God, Marx as a critic was a Marxist!) I.A. Richards was steadily at position 4.  T. S. Eliot moved from position 3 to position 5.  The French Symbolists moved from position 1 to position 3.  Tolstoy was at position 4, but towards the end of his life in his famous retractation he moved to position 2.  William Blake takes position 2 but he is at the same time a Transcedentalist (in our sense).


            What does do with someone like F. R. Leavis for whom poetics was something of an anathema, a deflection from the committed pursuit of criticism?  The pursuit of criticism?  The pursuit of criticism is a  certainly a worthy goal and Leavis no doubt pursed it in a worthy manner.  But, as Plato reminded us, even the rejection of philosophising stems from some philosophical position.  I shall go further and say that those who reject philosophy of criticism (call it poetics, if you like) ware condemned torepeat a ready-made one.  Leavis starts with early Eliot (position 3), moves to I. A. Richards (position 4), and (unhappily for those of us who have been his admirers) moved to position 2.


            Turning to Sanskrit criticism, one has of course an obligation to make an imaginative and linguistic effort to understand a whole new intellectual context and terminlology (Kelkar 1984).  Sanskrit critical theory is basically anchored in the Hedonist or the Formalsit positions.  Delight (prti) is, however, consistently matched with the long-term fruit vyutpatti for the recipient (the rasika-sāmājika)—a term that is variously interpreted as an understanding and grasp of the nature of poetry (position 3), the four goals of man (purursārthas, position 2), or the affairs of men (position 4).  Indians do not indulge in the seesaw between dulce and utile as the Westerns do.  In judging form (alakaraa), the Indians offer two distinct criteria—now it is auchitya (decorum in the Horatian sense, position 3), now it is the fusion of poetry with rasa (position 4).  Indian poetics has consistently been willing to consider a poem with as a linguistic artifact or text (hya) and as a thing of beauty or work of art (ramīya vastu).


            I am not arguing here for the validity of my specific assignments; rather am I persuading the reader that the proposed scheme is not only a viable ordering of the matrix of critical positions but also a potentially illuminating way of comparing critical positions.


             A final word of caution.  The value of the work of a literary critic or a literary theorist does not depend by any means upon the position he occupies, upon his party line or philosophical pedigree, so to say. Rather it depends on his work faithfully maintaining contact with the body of poems (and, in the theorist’s case, also with the body of critical judgements) that constituents the ciric’s (or the theorist’s) point of departure.  It further depends upon the ability to do the basic jobs, namely,


(i)                 saying whether some texts are poems and why;

(ii)                saying whether some poems are better poems

(iii)              than others  and why;

(iv)              saying whether some poems are great and why,


and on the ability to do justice to the basic complexities of poetry (some would say, its basic antimonies) without losing consistency and integration.  Does this sound like a tall order?  It shouldn’t, after all it is simply the basic commitment of a critic’s job of work.





Gallie, W. B. 1956.  Essentially contested concepts.  Proc. Of the Aristotelian Society 56.   167-98.  Reprinted  in: Black, Max, ed. The Importance of language. Englewood cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1962.

Kelkar, Ashok R. 1969.  The Being of a poem.  Foundations of language 5.77-33.


Kelkar, Ashok R. 1984.  Classical Sanskrit poetics: Then and now. The Literary criterion 19:1.18-29.  Reprinted in: Narasimhaiah, C D; Srinath, C N, ed. A Common poetic for Indian Literatures. Mysore: Dhavnyaloka, 1984. Pp. 18-29.

Krieger, Murray 1964.  A Window to criticism.  Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Wain, John 1955.  On Yeat’s ‘Among School Children’.  In: Wain, John, ed. Interpretations: Essays on twelve English Poems.  London: Routledge.

Sparshott, Francis. 1981.  A Thought for penny nickels.  Journal of aesthetics and art criticism 39. 451-3. (The last point as section IInd about source of the confusion in Clive Bell is not Spartshott’s, it is may responsibility.)



COLOPHON: This is based on talks given at the Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, Hyderabad on 9 March 1981 and at the American Center, Mumbai at a seminar on criticism on 2 February 1984.  This is unpublished.