Sunday, August 10, 2008

still looking

Still looking for the point of it all? Writing poetry, that is. The looking is either a sign of serious derailing, never having known to begin with, or, more likely, the point of it all.

Try this, from Stanley Plumly's latest book, POSTHUMOUS KEATS. "If poetry 'makes nothing happen' [Auden's lament] and if we despise any poetry 'that has designs' upon us[Keats's complaint], then what are we left with? If poetry is dreaming, what makes it real?" Plumly, of course, is trying to locate the function of poetry as Keats saw it, and since Keats thought of poetry as dreaming--waking dreaming, dreaming done with something like a purpose, not a 'design', behind it--, to what end? Plumly concludes: to see. "To see as a poet, a true dreamer, is to see as a healer and a knower." The seer being a visionary, not a photo-journalist. This idea has big arms, arms with which to clasp a great deal, hence room for not a little difference.

Which is why we have poetry.