For that reason, he was impressed by the way that transforming steps often came from outsiders; he instanced carbon dating which came came from physics and the first airplane was built by the Wright brothers who were bicycle experts.
“There is another trait that took me many years to notice, and that is the ability to tolerate ambiguity. Most people want to believe what they learn is the truth: there are a few people who doubt everything. If you believe too much then you are not likely to find the essentially new view that transforms a field, and if you doubt too much you will not be able to do much at all. It is a fine balance between believing what you learn and at the same time doubting things. Great steps forward usually involve a change of viewpoint to outside the standard ones in the field.”
On personal traits, he nominated high levels of activity and energy, emotional commitment, willingness to go “the extra mile”, courage and the ability to tolerate ambiguity.
He made much of the idea of problem solving in the craft of the poet, grappling with the linked problems of organizing intellectual, emotional and technical aspects of the work into a coherent form. The work that the poet has to put into solving these problems should make him a more effective thinker and actor in the world; similarly the effort required to understand what the poet has done should help the attentive reader in much the same way. This is why he speaks of the best poetry as “a moral success in the face of certain experiences” and he contends that the degree of greatness in the work depends on the difficulty of the experience that had to be faced, assuming that technical perfection was achieved at the same time. He suggests that the great tragic poets such as Shakespeare, Hardy and Racine convey the impression of a victory over life itself ”so much is implicated in the themes”.
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The poem is good in so far as it makes a defensible rational statement about a given human experience and at the same time communicates the emotion which ought to be motivated by rational understanding of that experience. This notion of poetry will account for both the power of poetry and for the seriousness with which the great poets have taken their art.
(c) 2017 Quartz Hill Community Church
Winters did valuable work on verse forms and meter to remind us that a poem is a living presence through its rhythms and its sound structure, in addition to its paraphrasable content and other rhetorical features. This effect is achieved, if it is achieved, by a happy combination of rhythm and form. Form in turn has two aspects, one the orderly arrangement and progression of thought, the other a kind of rhythm that goes beyond the stresses of the individual line to encompass the whole poem. “The poem exists in time, the mind proceeds through it in time, and if the poet is a good one he takes advantage of this fact and makes the progression rhythmical.”
His concern with reality, rationality and morality converge in the final judgment on a poem. He believed that a work of literature “in so far as it is valuable, provides a real apprehension and communication of a particular kind of objective truth”. Poetry is the most concentrated vehicle that is available for this purpose; the poet makes his statement in such a way as to use both the descriptive meaning of words and their emotional connotations as well.
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Third is his attention to the living presence of literature that is achieved by appropriate meter and rhythm. On the significance of literature he wrote: