I was googling Herrick and found an article that suggested that students did not know what a maypole was, and suggested that they look at source texts in which the word appeared, from some database.
And I was thinking: wouldn't a search from google images or google images give a kind of semantic / visual field that would be much more immediate, showing what a maypole actually looked like?
The article suggested a very laborious approach to something that ought to be intuitive and direct. The author of the article even admits that the other source texts are more opaque than Herrick's poem. Part of the evocativeness of poetry is in not knowing, exactly, what the referents are. That vagueness makes it better for the reader, in a way. Ambergris can seem an almost mythical object.
The article has this very irritating, condescending tone to it. Contrast to Kenneth Koch's use of the same poem. Koch seems to think that even little children will grasp the Maypole, something that this other professor thinks is opaque to college students.
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