Does the fact that every volume of Dante's "Divine Comedy" that I own is
accompanied by translator's notes, at least, which explain the references
Dante made to medieval Italian politics, make the "Divine Comedy" an
incomplete work of art? The first commentaries on
Dante's work came almost immediately and were clearly intended as reader's
You evidently consider "The Cantos" to have no structure/unification or
coherence. You use the terms in a random but seemingly interchangeable
fashion. You cite traditional reasons for your judgement of lack of
structure but yet claim "Four Quartets" is a coherent poem. Please show how
"Four Quartets" meets your requirements for structure/unification/coherence.
Further, in Paragraph 3 of your email you repeatedly refer to "The Cantos"
as "it". Please explain why you use a singular pronoun while denying "The
Cantos" singularity. If I err in attributing an equation of
coherence/structure/unification to you please explain why you consider the
"Four Quartets" to be a coherent poem without structure or unification. I
think that your explanation should point to more than just that each of
Eliot's poems have 5 sections though this is a similarity.
How can I use your ideas in evaluating "Leaves of Grass"? Has the free
verse "Leaves of Grass" had a like pernicious effect on poetry?
McIntosh, NM, USA
Mr. Davis writes in part
The Cantos are not self-sufficient because they
require the aid of other books to understand. A student must purchase
Terrell's Companion to the Cantos to have any idea what the references
mean--the references and the glosses being essential in many places to
the meaning of the passage. Thus, it is not an autonomous work of art.
2) There are many competing theories concerning the form/structure of the
Cantos. It seems clear to me that the Cantos have no form or structure. It
[i.e. The Cantos considered as a unified work of art, and as an epic] has no
plot, no central figure, no linear time or chronology, and no fixed verse
form. To the obvious retort--that the Cantos have many plots, characters,
chronologies, and verse forms--I would merely say it's not unified then is