Poetic Material

The poet says that art holds the mirror up to nature.  So we can assume – all thinking people can assume – that anything under the sun may be appropriate poetic material.  And I agree with Thoreau who claimed that we are thoroughly degraded because we cannot speak simply about necessary functions of human nature.  The difference I would add is this: that we cannot speak simply and without euphemism of the highest and best functions of human nature either.  The problem, as I understand it, isn’t what the poet reflects upon then, but to whom he presents the reflection.  As long as he skirts his responsibility to the critic, his poetry will be degraded whether he speaks of the highest of the high or the commonest of the common.

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