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This programme deals with poetic imagery as an aspect of poetic language. It is presented by Graham Martin, Reader in Literature at the Open University. We start with the experience of Roquentin in... Jean Paul Sartre's novel 'Nausea'. Roquentin finds that 'things have broken free from their names'; that language can no longer control reality and that the two have become quite separate. Graham Martin argues that words are a means of giving meaning to what would otherwise be vivid but confusing sensory impressions, and that all language is therefore creative. 'The point about poetic language is that it intensifies and concentrates the creative element that's in all language.' With this in mind he looks at the word 'tree' and the way in which it could be said to evoke a picture, and examines whether the picture is precise or generalised. He next analyses a poem by Robert Graves, and considers the 'imagery' and the way it might be said to work. This opens up the entire question of how pictorial is poetic imagery? Graham Martin looks at a silent film based on the lines of an imagist poem by Ezra Pound, and analyses the impact of the film in relation to the poem. He concludes that although the poem is apparently pictorial - full of imagery - its effects are not really pictorial at all: they are based on sound and the effects of touch. Graham Martin develops his ideas in relation to the Imagist movement and ends the programme by examining a poem by W.H. Auden.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: A306, Twentieth century poetry
Item code: A306; 01
First transmission date: 07-02-1976
Published: 1976
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:24:27
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Producer: Paul Kafno
Contributor: Graham Martin
Publisher: BBC Open University
Subject terms: Poetry; Auden, W. H. (Wystan Hugh), 1907-1973; Graves, Robert, 1895-1985; Pound, Ezra, 1885-1972; Sartre, Jean-Paul, 1905-1980
Footage description: Graham Martin introduces the programme. Martin describes the experience of Roquentin in Jean Paul Sartre's novel La Nausee. An extract from the book is read overstill shots of trees. Martin argues that language has stopped working for Roquentin, and goes on to draw more general conclusions about the nature of language. To enforce his argument he examines the word 'tree', suggesting with still photographs what the word may convey to different people. He maintains that the word is a way of ordering a confusion of sensory impressions. As an experiment he shows us a large model of the word 'tree', arguing that the word can lose its conventional meaning by such unorthodox treatment. He explains that all language is creative and gives reasons for reading poetic language very closely and carefully. Martin analyses a love poem by Robert Graves. He points out the originality of the poem and examines the way language is used to convey this originality. In particular he explains the use of imagery in the poem; and then more generally he defines imagery and explains its uses. Showing of a silent film based on the lines of an imagist poem by Ezra Pound. Martin analyses the impact of the film and then of the poem it is based on. He explains why the poem is far more effective and concludes that the images it employs are not pictorial, but are based on sound and touch. Martin defines Imagism and explains its importance. He concludes with a brief examination of a poem by W.H. Auden.
Master spool number: 6HT/71934
Production number: 00525_3156
Videofinder number: 712
Available to public: no