A recent FB conversation reminded me of this pet peeve.
What I'm about to say I believe applies to all literature (and music), but especially to poetry:
Once you have written your piece and put it out there to the public, it belongs to each individual reader. No matter how you meant it, the meaning is now personal to each reader.
I long tutored in a variety of subjects, but mostly English and Math. When it came to poetry, I could teach what a phrase means, or what a colloquialism means or used to mean, or that this-or-that word might have multiple meanings. But I could not - no, would not - teach the meaning of a poem!
So it peeved me to no little extent that the English portion of the Georgia GED exam had a section on the interpretation of poetry - and yes, there were right and wrong answers. I'd tutored for years in Florida, but they didn't test on this.
Poetry is deeply personal. What I get out of a poem might bear no resemblance of what @Jo Zebedee gets out of it! To test on this is ridiculous! (And certainly, @BAYLOR will disagree with me on it's meaning! )
I prepared them the best I could, but made sure they understood that there were really no right or wrong interpretations of poetry. Only one of my over 100 students did not pass the GED on the first try (even though she scored high enough to pass each of the five subjects, her overall score was just a tad short). So I guess it wasn't a major problem.
Am I the only one who thinks the interpretation of poetry is something that should not be on a "Final Exam"?