Thursday, March 22, 2007

Auden on poetry

OK, this made me laugh: "The ideal audience the poet imagines consists of the beautiful who go to bed with him, the powerful who invite him to dinner and tell him secrets of state, and his fellow-poets. The actual audience he gets consists of myopic schoolteachers, pimply young men who eat in cafeterias, and his fellow-poets. This means that, in fact, he writes for his fellow-poets."

Stolen from this article. I don't feel so bad since the newspaper stole the quotes from a book.

My years in telephone reference allow me to attest to the truth of this next quote: " It is a sobering experience for any poet to read the last page of the Books section of the Sunday Times where correspondents seek to identify poems which have meant much to them. He is forced to realise that it is not his work, not even the work of Dante or Shake-speare, that most people treasure as magic talismans in time of trouble, but grotesquely bad verses written by maiden ladies in local newspapers; that millions in their bereavements, heartbreaks, agonies, depressions, have been comforted and perhaps saved from despair by appalling trash while poetry stood helplessly and incompetently by."

I can't tell you how many times someone called telephone reference asking who wrote the worst piece of Hallmark type poetry. Half the times these poems were so generic that I couldn't find an author and just completed the quote as posted on someone's personal Yahoo page. Usually these pages were replete with moving gifs and custom mouse icons that left trails of hearts.

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