Paperback review: Who is Ozymandias? And Other Puzzles in Poetry, By John Fuller


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The Independent Culture

"A poem should not mean, but be," in Archibald MacLeish's famous words.

John Fuller is having none of that. He goes after meanings like a pig after truffles. Here you can learn what Larkin's high windows mean (an acknowledgement of the religious point of view); why so many people get the title of T S Eliot's masterpiece wrong (it's The Waste Land – two words, not one, an error more significant than might first appear); whether it's possible to dream a good poem (not really); what Lewis Carroll's Snark was (it's kind of Freudian); and who Ozymandias is (he was Rameses II, but Shelley may have had a more contemporary emperor in mind). A witty, erudite and illuminating book, which encourages one to enjoy the puzzles and pleasures of poetry without fear.