Friday, August 27, 2010
The Popular View of Poetry and Poets
It is no use pretending that in an age like our own, 'good' poetry can have any genuine popularity. It is, and must be, the cult of a very few people, the least tolerated of the arts....But in general ours is a civilization in which the very word 'poetry' evokes a hostile snigger or, at best, the sort of frozen disgust that most people feel when they hear the word 'God'. If you are good at playing the concertina you could probably go into the nearest public bar and get yourself an appreciative audience within five minutes. But what would be the attitude of that same audience if you suggested reading them Shakespeare's sonnets, for instance?
Update: Thanks to Patrick Kurp for drawing my attention to poet laureate Percy Dovetonsils, a role played by comedian Ernie Kovacs. Watch recitations of Dovetonsil's Autumn and Ode from a Germ's Eye Viewpoint, and read several of Dovetonsil's Odes here.