Monday, October 29, 2007


Yesterday I was listening to the radio and the subject was poetry. The speaker was discussing the great American poets of the nineteenth century: Poe, Longfellow, Dickinson and Whitman. He and I had the same thought: where are the great poets of the twentieth century? What happened?

In the twentieth century poetry like music became a high art. It was no longer admirable to be comprehensible by the masses. Obscurity became a requirement.

Incomprehensibility is a sign of decadence. [My words--not his.] Great poetry like great music comes from the general love for poetry. The great works are merely the peaks of a generally popular art. The great American operas of the twentieth century are Porgy and Bess and West Side Story, the works of popular composers working in their native styles.

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