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Nature in the Interpretation of Poetry

            In "The Nature of Proof in the Interpretation of Poetry," Laurence Perrine's argument is that there is one meaning in a work of literature. He believes that an authors work does not have infinite interpretations it has a limited amount. He states this here "That a poem may have varying interpretations is a critical commonplace. That all interpretations of a poem are equally valid is a critical heresy," (Perrine 1). This quote is essentially saying that the idea of having infinite interpretations is wrong. This example is exactly what Perrine is arguing throughout his paper, he is disagreeing with the argument that poems have a vast amount of interpretations, which is the exact argument that T.S. Eliot has made in this quote "If it suits you that way, then that is all right with me." Yeats once wrote to a friend: "I shall not trouble to make the meaning clear- a clear, vivid story of a strange sort is enough. The meaning maybe different with everyone."(Perrine 1). Perrine thinks that if a poem is talking about a certain thing that's all it is talking about there is nothing else that it is describing. This is evident in this quotation "For logical proof, though not experimental proof, is at least as possible in the interpretation of poetry as it is, say, in a court of law." (1). This quote is saying that there is one meaning of poetry and only one. Perrine uses the court of law as an analogy to his argument, Perrine is saying that the laws do not have multiple interpretations, there are no excuses there is one interpretation and that is to follow that law. If we replace the law with poetry we can see that this is Perrine's argument, that there is one interpretation to poetry. Another example of Perrine disagreeing with the idea of multiple interpretation is poetry is stated here "Thomas Huxley illustrates this principle of judgments in a different area in one of his essays.

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