UNIT I: INTRODUCTION TO CRITICISM
And they marveled as they placed
The cans at her ankles, at her neck, at her wrists so she
Glittered gold and silver. They adorned what they’d made.
After harrowing they’d come to her, drawing
The fountains of the Plains, the long line
Of irrigating spray and moisten her up.
And lean against her tight, green thighs to watch buzzards
Circle black against the pink stain of the sunset.
What time she began to smolder they never knew—
Sometime between night when they’d left her
And evening when they returned. Wet, green hay
Can go a long time smoldering before you notice.
It has a way
Of catching itself, of asserting that
There is no dominion over it but the air. And it flares suddenly
Like a red head losing her temper, and allows its long bright hair
To tangle in the air, letting you know again
That what shelters you can turn incendiary in a flash.
And then there is only the space of what has been,
An absence in the field, memory in the shape of a woman.
This is not, mainly, a book about poems. It is a book about rhetoric and the
rhetors who create it, as well as criticism and the critics who perform it. It is a
book that invites careful attention to the messages of daily life. This book en-
courages us to pick and probe at messages designed to influence human thoughts
and actions. It invites careful attention to such
that is, the
leftovers of rhetorical acts: the records that remain and can be re-examined after
the speech, letter, debate, editorial, or performance has been created and in some
cases, ended. Because it is a book about
it is a book about the art of
using language to help people narrow their choices among specifiable, if not
specified, policy options. Not a very sophisticated definition, perhaps, but one