To arrest the fleeting images that fill/The mirror of the mind, and hold them fast,/And force them sit, till he has pencilled off/A faithful likeness of the forms he views ... [William Cowper]
There cannot be a starker contrast between two statements as in the above two quotations about the same thing: poetry, and its role. And it is unfortunate that the world has gone on the path of Cowper, that of Keats and Wordsworth: mere artisans who weren't craftsmen, mere beauticians who didn't know how to breathe soul into words. Rather, they were bent upon extricating the soul from the words themselves, lost in plays of words and their sounds and the metaphors that became ever more ingenious: photoshopped photographs. The world had changed directions: reason was sought everywhere, even in the conduct of man (psychology); testimonies of miracles are scoffed at or sought to be explained by something or the other; and suddenly man, who has always been so superhuman to me, made himself so puny. He discarded the magic of believing, of living, of what lay beyond the "wordery": the mystic Rumi gave way to banal eroticism of Neruda, and worse: reading any American MFA graduate makes you wonder, why is the writer whining (which poetry does not) instead of singing (which poetry does). From the sunny day to how the lovemaking session went last night, from the man fondling a minor to the descriptions of a city's streets or immigrants - this is where we have come to, with poetry.
Yes, this is where. Now, poetry serves also as travel vignettes, as slices of life, as witty conversations, as a manifesto against something or the other in this label-riddled world, as confessionals in the world of religiously atheists and agnostics (whatever the latter term could mean; I doubt a sane person would be able to make anything of it), as vents of anger/frustration/drive/desire; anything but poetry. Now it is not deliverance, not praise, not seeking; not intangible smoke; not wonder, not burning curiosity; not happiness of pain, and pain of happiness. Now it is semotics; it is preservation; it is photocopies; it is residue.
It's a pity. It's a bit difficult to sometimes live in a world which is so hellbent against poetry: not too difficult, though, as any true poet knows to make and distill his own poetry. The voices have died already, they are no more to be heard in the public sphere: no publisher would ever publish real poetry. Not many would be writing it anyway. But the few who will be, will have charming listeners: their own souls as they converse with the bees and the clouds and the thousand joys that transport them - and they will ask whereto? wherefrom? Not content with painting still lives of the wind and the tossing grass, they will seek alternative bodies, other universes and new names of God: in eternal quest, these few will live in every song that ever will be breathed, in the joys of a fire kept during a cold night, in the noise and tumult of birds as much as rolling tanks: eternally.