Hoards of the Noble Dead versus the Future


Now, although it has come to seem in our time that we are deluged by communications, by the sounds—better, the noise—of voices pouring words out over the planet and making one contemplate an imaginary project like building a soundproof Noah’s Ark that could float above the confused, tumultuous waves of babble that are drowning the world, I think it better to recall from time to time that reading poetry, listening to poetry, is something utterly different from attending to the communications of journalism and mass literature and entertainment that permeate our waking and even our sleeping lives.

[…] For news to stay news, for news to become poetry, as Pound put it, it needs the poet who will transform patterns and structures of the telling, sublimate and reify the images of language, its tones and rhythms, and offer them as a fixed, a static, and a relatively atemporal, or non-daily, non-journalistic esthetic object. News must be rendered by the poet into a fairly permanent form like an unmoving rock in the torrent of passing time, or into a set of symbols that contain much more than signs do. We don’t require a semiotic treatise to make us aware that the challenge of poetry has always been the same: to render the signs, the message, the facts of words, even news stories, the dailyness of the daily, so to say, into symbolic utterances that are not coals, but diamonds. We all know that is the challenge.

Poetry must not be buried like the hoards of treasure buried with the noble dead in past ages, or by the defeated who were overrun by invaders. It must and will be fully present and available to speech and meaning, interpretation and understanding, now, no matter how hard it may be for people to learn to read it. It must be made now, and made out of our present as it is now, in order to enter the future.

Jascha Kessler at Eclectica