If we ask a vague question, such as, ‘What is poetry?’ we expect a vague answer, such as, ‘Poetry is the music of words,’ or ‘Poetry is the linguistic correction of disorder.’
I am grateful for – though I can’t keep up with – the flood of articles, theses, and textbooks that mean to share insight concerning the nature of poetry.
If a poem is each time new, then it is necessarily an act of discovery, a chance taken, a chance that may lead to fulfillment or disaster.
I can’t tell you where a poem comes from, what it is, or what it is for: nor can any other man. The reason I can’t tell you is that the purpose of a poem is to go past telling, to be recognised by burning.
Everything is discursive opinion instead of direct experience.
Besides the actual reading in class of many poems, I would suggest you do two things: first, while teaching everything you can and keeping free of it, teach that poetry is a mode of discourse that differs from logical exposition.
For though we often need to be restored to the small, concrete, limited, and certain, we as often need to be reminded of the large, vague, unlimited, unknown.
There’s something to be said in favor of working in isolation in the real world.
Once every five hundred years or so, a summary statement about poetry comes along that we can’t imagine ourselves living without.
You have your identity when you find out, not what you can keep your mind on, but what you can’t keep your mind off.