The Daily…ish

Poetry and Miscellany

  • Poem

    Men say they know many things;
    But lo! they have taken wings—
    The arts and sciences,
    And a thousand appliances;
    The wind that blows
    Is all that any body knows.

    ~ Henry David Thoreau

    (in context)

Accessible, Hospitable, Whichever

Posted by Matthew on February 21, 2007

Why did I choose today’s poem? Why not another, or one of my own? To begin with, mine are not nearly this good. Also, I feel like “This is Just To Say” is in line with the way I’m thinking about poetry and this blog. I think a significant part of poetry’s popularity problem lies in its inability to relate to the public, and vice versa. A lot of contemporary poetry is wildly impressive, technically speaking, but how much contemporary poetry has the power to really draw in the Everyman, make him think, “I know exactly where this poem is coming from!”? My guess is, very little.

Now, as a disclaimer, I realize that poetry is about more than stringing together pretty words that resemble something to which all can relate, that poetry is also responsible for something deeper. However, that something deeper is better left to another day, as the depth of poetry doesn’t matter if it isn’t being read. There is a distinct lack of accessible, hospitable poetry in America (I don’t really know about the rest of the world, but I can’t imagine it’s terribly different elsewhere), and it seems that should be at the forefront of poetic thinking right now.

It is also necessary, I think, to note that while books and magazines and newspapers are not the centers of social thought they once were, the internet provides a number of arenas that might benefit poetry as new vehicles of expression. Blogs, video channels, and e-zines all offer promise, but they must be embraced. Perhaps 200 million dollars will make a difference, and perhaps some of that money will be used to explore more relevant media for poetry, and perhaps not. I am not sure how much hope is appropriate, but I will try to do my part.

Poem: This is Just To Say, by William Carlos Williams
Thoreau: February 21, 1842

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