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“7 Types of Ambiguity” by William Empson
I don’t think it’s ever taken me as long to finish reading such a short looking book, 256 pages of how to read, or how people can read, multiple meanings into poetry. For every interesting multiple reading, there is another example of reading too much into something minor. Another strength or weakness of the book, depending upon your taste in poetry, is his focus on pre-modern poets. Thus the poetic language is often another dialect of English all together, and Empson puts out several times how the other meanings of words have fallen by the way side over time so we don’t see the ambiguity, or get the pun, any more. His focus on poets like Shakespeare, Yeats, Blake, Milton, etc leave me wondering if he found his contemporary poets too unambiguous to be interesting.