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Krieger, Ekphrasis and the Still Movement of Poetry (abstract)

  • Murray Krieger. "Appendix: ‘Ekphrasis and the Still Movement of Poetry; or Laokoön Revisited.’" 1967. Ekphrasis. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1992. 263–88.

    THROUGH A DISCUSSION of mechanical, golden, earthly birds turned legendary (Keats, Yeats, Wordsworth), and urns presented as aesthetic jars, Krieger resolves the temporal/spatial duality of text/image, to a topos where poetic language takes on plasticity as well as spatiality. He has it both ways with the temporal/spatial duality affirmed by Lessing, by suggesting that in poetry we recognize here-and- now unique concreteness making ritual motions of aesthetic pattern, echo, and repetition, becoming "forever-now motions." Krieger presents the possibility of a simultaneous perception of motion and stasis, and he confronts the Lessing tradition, with its neat separateness of the mutually delimiting arts, and sees a time-space breakthrough in the plasticity of the language of poetry. This language tries to become an object with as much substance as the medium of the plastic arts, the words thus establishing a plastic aesthetic for themselves, sometimes using the ekphrastic object as their emblem. Krieger concludes by making "still movement" ekphrasis an aesthetic criterion: "I would give the special liberating license to our best poetry, insisting on its ekphrastic completeness that allows us to transfer the human conquest of time from the murky subjective caverns of phenomenology to the well-wrought, well-lighted place of aesthetics." (Jean Jacobson.)

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Michael Hancher
Department of English, University of Minnesota
URL: <http://mh.cla.umn.edu/txtimjj4.html>
Comments to: mh@umn.edu
Created 24 November 1997
Revised 7 May 2000