If poetry or any art is to be memorable and moving, it can be neither engagé nor an empty game. Herbert cites his conversations with young Americans in 1970-71 and says “those who dabble in film, art, or literature, loudly declare they are on the side of the `Left’.” If anything, that hegemony is even more absolute today. He continues:
“And I often wonder why the work that results from this essentially noble stance is intellectually immature, as if the proclamation of humanist ideals led the artist into the realm of banality. I’ve often asked myself if it isn’t too cruel a punishment that political kindheartedness should cancel out a work’s artistic value.”
Of course, is the intention really good if the aims are merely fashionable?