What is a poem and how does one respond to it? This question is deep and it takes a Stanley Burnshaw to explore it inside-out, reaching the nooks and corners of thought where others haven’t before. Burnshaw takes us there in his 1970 book The Seamless Web.
In the three main sections of the book, Burnshaw moves from the psychological-linguistic context to cultural-existential perspective and on to the artistic components (object, reader, and encounter) to present his case for a literary-philosophical analysis of poetry. The existential component is central to his thesis of the human organism in all its evolutionary scale responding a whole to the poem. In Burnshaw’s work, a poem is not just words and language but a more complete package of meanings that address the entirety of being.
Expect lots of references and citations in The Seamless Web as well as commentary on technical aspects of selected excerpts from verse by some of the most celebrated poets of various literary periods. Burnshaw loves to show what he is talking about albeit in a condensed manner characterizing a poet-philosopher. Endnotes accompany each chapter accordingly.
The Seamless Web is the book that gives you a new concept of poetry, critic, and the reader. It’s a gem for philosophy and literature students of moderate to advanced level, particularly to students of poetry and ontology.