Enjoying poems by Ted Hughes on the Poetry Archive website, my cursor took me onto Michael Simmonds Roberts, then Auden and so on…. this meandering through work by poets separated by time and many other factors, seems at once both unreal, artificial – a ‘web-disease’- and yet a gift, an opportunity that gratitude is my honest response. How very lucky to be alive at a time when all this is ‘mine’ at the touch on a keyboard!
‘Poetry is a fringe obsession’, an occupation of thought and mind that is ‘privileged’ and deeply irrelevant to 99% of the world. Not so!! Look only to today’s papers to see that Adonis speaking out against the Syrian regime, matters… of course, there are endless examples of poets or poetry being of importance to human endeavours as well as to society as a whole. And yet there is a perception nevertheless that poetry does not ‘earn its living’, is a nice little occupation for those who can afford to buy it, read it or write it. Poetry organisations were certainly not spared the axe when funding had to be cut : a sign of disregard though? It could also be seen as one of confidence in the survival of the fittest, poetry being an enduring species.
Discovering a connection across boundaries of time and place is one aspect of poetry which I enjoy; but I guess my love of poetry, my writing poems, is less intellectual than that really… for me poetry is simply my way of relating to the world, and perhaps an act of midwifery which fights a small death every day, too. Such thoughts are not too far away, as the heart flies, from Auden’s: ‘Art is our chief means of breaking bread with the dead’. Talking of which, I recommend Auden’s ‘The Shield of Achilles’ – it is as relevant today as anything written right now. His words giving things their proper shapes, without mercy but compassionate alright.