The Turn

Greetings, All,

Though acquainted with the general principles of the Plumbline School, I am still acquainting myself with, tonight, the thread of the conversation that's begun on this blog. Therefore, I will not enter with any grand declarations (give me a day or two), but will say simply that I look forward to being a part of this ongoing conversation, the study group of this school.

Additionally, to offer a sense of where I'm coming from, I'd like to point anyone interested to my own blog:


There, you'll see that I'm very interested in the turn in poetry. Simply put, I think 1) turns are vital parts of poems (and I'm not the only one; T.S. Eliot calls the turn "the most important means of poetic effect since Homer"), 2) turns tend, when mentioned at all, tend to get severely downplayed in the ways we talk about poems, and 3) we should think and talk more about turns.

I have a feeling that thinking about the turn will illuminate (or add further light to) some of the conversations started here... Now, let me see...

Mike Theune


Henry Gould said...

Hi Mike!

Welcome to the construction site!

The Byrds were an early favorite, back when - choiring Ecclesiastes & guitars (To every thing... / Turn, turn, turn...)

Joseph Duemer said...

Welcome! I've been thinking a lot about what a rhetorician I once knew called "pivots" in writing -- I look forward to hearing what you have to say & I'll be checking out your site.

Joseph Duemer said...

Just had a chance to read your essay, Michael. I'd say that your focus on the turn in a poem is important for at least two reasons, intertwined: Gives us a way to talk about structure, as you say, but also a chance to talk about the "argument" of a poem and the way it works rhetorically.

I also wonder whether the turn might be related to something we were discussing a while back here -- the idea that the poem's language approaches the world without ever quite touching it. It's just the nature of language. Isn't the turn often caught up with this paradox? Doesn't the turn at least sometimes gesture toward the incommensurate and the impossible position of poetic language (which we must nevertheless employ)?