ch01 - CH01.QXD 9:03 AM Page 1 Chapter 1 THE RHETORICAL...

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1 Chapter 1 T HE R HETORICAL P ERSPECTIVE Because as they cut it was that special green, they decided To make a woman of the fresh hay. They wished to lie in green, to wrap Themselves in it, light but not pale, silvered but not grey. Green and ample, big enough so both of them could shelter together In any of her crevices, the armpit, the join Of hip and groin. They—who knew what there was to know about baling The modern way with hay so you rolled it up like a carpet, Rather than those loose stacks—they packed the green body tight So she wouldn’t fray. Each day they moulted her to keep her Green and soft. Only her hair was allowed to ripen into yellow tousle. The next weeks whenever they stopped cutting they lay with her. She was always there, waiting, reliable, their green woman. She gathered them in, yes she did, Into the folds of herself, like the mother they hadn’t had. Like the women they had had, only more pliant, more graceful, Welcoming in a way you never just found. They not only had the awe of taking her, But the awe of having made her. They drank beer Leaning against the pillow of her belly And one would tell the other, “Like two Adams creating.” CH01.QXD 7/30/2004 9:03 AM Page 1
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2 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. [Macdonald, 1985:75–6] 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 rhetorical artifacts, 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 rhetoric, 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
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ch01 - CH01.QXD 9:03 AM Page 1 Chapter 1 THE RHETORICAL...

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