Now, there are people who snidely claim the religious right doesn’t do poetry. No, of course, they don’t because it was coopted by the left, who queered every historic work of literature after dismantling it through a Marxist and Freudian lens. Then they determined that rules pertaining to language and grammar were snooty, not for true Bohemian artist types, who ought to have no restrictions placed on them. Stream of consciousness puked on the page and then workshopped in poetry classes in universities everywhere became the true meaning of poetry, along with subjective advice akin to “I’m just not feeling that third word from the right. Maybe give it a unique spelling?”
Poets are liars not because, as Socrates said, they can fool us with the power of their imitations, but because identifying yourself as a poet implies you might overcome the bitter logic of the poetic principle, and you can’t. You can only compose poems that, when read with perfect contempt, clear a place for the genuine Poem that never appears…
In aristocratic ages each people as well as each individual is prone to stand separate and aloof from all others. In democratic ages the extreme fluctuations of men and the impatience of their desires keep them perpetually on the move, so that the inhabitants of different countries intermingle, see, listen to, and borrow from each other. It is not only the members of the same community then, who grow more alike; communities themselves are assimilated to one another, and the whole assemblage presents to the eye of the spectator one vast democracy, each citizen of which is a nation. This displays the aspect of mankind for the first time in the broadest light. All that belongs to the existence of the human race taken as a whole, to its vicissitudes and its future, becomes an abundant mine of poetry.
Alexis De Tocqueville: Democracy in America, published 1835–1840
Because the combination of song writer and recorded music displaced it. A song is much more accessible to the average person than a poem, and technology made songs widely available. Poetry responded to its diminished status by retreating into narcissistic incoherence. Sure the philistines may not recognize the true greatness of modern poetry, but at least poets could take comfort in their own self-declared cultural superiority. When public rejection became a necessary characteristic of great poetry, then there was no longer any hope.
It’s not correct to say a poet is the same as a song writer. It’s easier to write lyrics for a song because the song writer can lean upon the music. The poet has only words (and at one time such archaic concepts as rhyme and rhythm and meaning and significant subject matter) to carry his message. Poetry is a much harder art form. But better Dylan than a modern poet who composes what passes for poetry in this day and age. Better to let the dead decompose undisturbed.