The most difficult exercise in the study of poetry is the process of evaluating a poem. We can describe its theme and note how stylistic techniques are vital to the communication of the ideas and emotions which it embodies. But is it a great poem, good, bad, or indifferent? We may be asked whether or not we enjoy a particular poem and we can find it very difficult to justify our response. One reason for the difficulty in evaluating poetry is that, through the centuries, contradictory expectations of poets and their art have been formulated, often with absolutist certainty. In practice, this has meant that while the works of writers of a particular age have been highly regarded, another age - usually the immediately succeeding one - rejects them, both for their subject matter and their style.
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