Friday, 17 July 2015

The Uselessness of Poetry

Paul Muldoon doesn't think poetry is necessarily good for anything:
Though I think it’s true that poetry may help us to understand aspects of the world and think about the world in unexpected, revelatory ways, I’m not sure if I have ever quite accepted that it has a use, that there’s a utility in terms of helping us live our lives. That is certainly a theory of poetry that we’ve seen have some currency, and indeed I think Seamus Heaney probably believed something along those lines. It’s a tradition in recent years that one can see extending through Seamus to people like Czesław Miłosz. It’s a theory of poetry which suggests that it might be able to truly bring us succour and solace, almost religious benefits. But, however attractive it might be as an idea, I’m not sure if it quite works. I go to poetry for engagement with language and for revelations that are momentary rather than longer-term. It may be that the moment can be repeated or extended. But the moment in which we accept that the flea, according to John Donne, is a marriage-bed and a temple is a moment that is quite fleeting. It’s a moment that embodies a truth, but I’m not sure if it’s a truth that truly helps us live our lives.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like "revelations that are momentary rather than longer-term". It's nice to think that an insight can be enjoyed for two seconds and that's okay, even if you never need to think it again or particularly remember that you had it.
Dr. Gerhardt Juxata
University of Panama & Western Venezuela