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Poetry and Parables

Fr. Philip has an interesting take on parables:

Poets use verse to hide secret messages. Everyone knows that they could just say what they mean in plain prose, but the whole point of poetry is to figure out the code—the symbols, the allusions, etc.—and then decipher the hidden message to win the prize! Once you crack the code a poet uses, all of his or her poems can be decrypted in the same way. Every time I teach poetry, I have to un-teach this method of reading poetry. At some point in the class—especially with E. Dickinson or W. Stevens—someone will snap and cry out in frustration: “Just tell us what it means!!!” Though I am moved to pity, I am also resolved to resist allowing my students to turn good poetry into a de-coder ring game. Jesus seems to share my teacherly attitude when it comes to his parables.
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