Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Good intentions ...

... are never enough: `Serenity, Dignity, and Cool Radiance'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

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?


  1. It's an argument for smallness, for lyrical disengagement, for all those things that make poetry meaningless to anyone but the poet. As for poets who directly changed or at least strongly influenced the world, one think of Homer, of Rumi, Cicero, and some others. One thing Rumi had was passionate intensity, "on fire" with life, with God, with love. How quickly that is dismissed by those too timid to be equally passionate or engaged. Poets who just want to go off in the corner and not bother anyone are again one reason no one cares about poetry anymore.

  2. I have been spending a good of my time in the mountains in the company of Basho.

  3. Always a good companion, is Master Basho. I always take his Narrow Road into the woods with me, as well.