Meaning Is In The Eye Of The Reader

In response to a comment by me on her post entitled “The infinity of Destinies”, Veronica comments as follows:

“If I told you my own vision, the mystery would be gone, don’t you agree?”. (see https://thewavesofpoetry.com/2020/07/12/the-infinity-of-destinies-dedicated-to-e/).

As a poet, I do indeed agree with Veronica. Every reader puts his or her own interpretation upon a poem or any other piece of writing. What the creator of art intended is, frequently not what the reader, the viewer of the painting Etc, interprets. And herein resides the joy and beauty of artistic creation.

In my poem “Raining”, I describe awaking to the sound of “rain drumming on my window pane”. On reading “Raining”, a friend’s teenage son commented that he thought the rain was “crying”. This is not something which I (the poet) had ever considered when penning the poem. I can, however understand why my friend’s son interprets “Raining” as he does, and I certainly do not dismiss his interpretation of the poem.

The truth of the matter is this. Once a poem, short story, novel or any other artistic creation is made available to the public, those exposed to it will, inevitably put their own interpretation upon that creation. And they have every right to do so. This is part of the joy of creativity – that it provokes differing interpretations.

As always, I would be interested in the views of my readers.

Kevin

9 thoughts on “Meaning Is In The Eye Of The Reader

  1. Lucy

    I agree with you greatly. There are a myriad of interpretations to explore from different readers of just one piece alone. That indeed is beautiful in itself.

    There is the mystery in not revealing the intentions of the writer. I indulge in that, but at times, I offer my perspective to compare similar or dissimilar interpretations of my poetry. It’s quite intriguing.

    That’s, just as you say, the beauty in creation. We put something out there and every imagination is different. Context is meant differently to all, literally and figuratively in the literary realm.

    I enjoyed reading this. Very thought-provoking and utterly true. The meaning is up to the reader ultimately. It’s how the piece connected to them.

    Reply
    1. K Morris Poet Post author

      Many thanks for your comments, Lucy.

      “There is the mystery in not revealing the intentions of the writer. I indulge in that, but at times, I offer my perspective to compare similar or dissimilar interpretations of my poetry. It’s quite intriguing.”

      I agree with all you say, and particularly with the above.

      I often wonder what long dead poets would think of our interpretations of their work. Eliot’s “Wasteland” does, for example continue to intrigue and puzzle readers. It’s a wonderful poem, which can be interpreted in so many different ways.

      Kevin

      Reply
  2. blindzanygirl

    Yes. This is actually a very interesting subject. Believe it or not, as part of my Theology Masters, we studied the Reader Resonse Method of Literary Critical Theory. The reason that we studied it was that it applies not only to poetry, but also to Biblical Interpretation, and also anything at all that we write that is creative. I absolutely LOVED the idea at the time, and still do. And we were taught to let go of a piece once we had written it. To let it settle in the minds of our readers, however it does. I must say that at times I find that difficult though, because sometimes I want to get a message across. I was very surprised one day when someone told me that my limericks contained serious statements on life and other things. But then I saw it, and realised what I was unconsciously doing.

    Reply
    1. K Morris Poet Post author

      Many thanks, Lorraine. I was interested in your comment as regards theology and how this pertains also to creative writing. On the subject of theology, I know people who take the story of Adam and Eve literally and deny that evolution was responsible for the creation of humankind. I find this interesting as many other religious people do not deny evolution. Turning to the interpretation of poetry, interstingly I received a comment via email on my poem “The Man with the Mop”. The lady said that she particularly liked this poem, and that it was relevant given the critical role of health service cleaners during the ongoing pandemic. The poem was, in fact written prior to the outbreak of Covid, however I can understand why the reader saw in it some connection with the Corona virus. Others have seen humour in my poem. I, for my part had something other than humour (or Corona) in mind when I put fingers to keyboard. Best, Kevin

      Reply
      1. blindzanygirl

        Thanks Kevin. Theology is a multi disciplined subject. It is not narrowly confined to God, the Bible, or things religious. What theology does is use the theory of other disciplines to inform it. It is very very borad indeed. Thus, when I did my studies, over a long period of time, I stdied Sociology, Ohilosophy, Womens Studies, osychology, and Literary Critical Theory. We drew from all those disciplines, otherwise it could have been very very narrow, and not aligned to life and therefore not re,evant. When Ivdid mty Masters in Theology, I used Paulo Freire as one of my theorists and he was an educationalist. I also used Julia Kristeva who is Literary Critical Theorist and Psychoanalytic Theorist. This gives you an insight into how Theology works. Even atheists do Theology. I am not entirely sure what I am lol. But certainly, as we were talking about poetry, the Reader Response Method of interpretation comes from Literary Theory, not Theology, but was adapted for Theology. It is very interesting indeed to hear about your poem, and how different people saw it. I am often tempted tovexplain mine, but usually don’t, as I guess that could be seen as control, and I must let people fly!

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