“A Poet, as he is the author to others of the highest wisdom, pleasure, virtue and glory, so he ought personally to be the happiest, the best, the wisest, and the most illustrious of men. As to his glory, let Time be challenged to declare whether the fame of any other institutor of human life be comparable to that of a poet” (361).
Poets are the most inspiring and memorable people to exist. The most iconic paintings will always be remembered through our eyes as they are forever referenced. Likewise, poetry is forever recited and while there are those who do not care enough to offer an opinion on a painting, the words of a poem affect us more still. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what does it mean when a poem leaves us speechless? As long as we record and remember history, poetry will live forever– additionally insured by the upsurge of social media. At a certain level, no other art form has changed the course of history the way poetry has. The fiercest, most heartbroken and angry change makers singe us with their words. I think of the Civil Rights poets and storytellers such as Langston Hughes, WEB Dubois, Maya Angelou, the Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish, Martin Niemoller’s Holocaust poem “First they came . . . ,” Carolyn Forche, and beyond these names are the other legendary Frost, Dickinson, Wilde, Yeats, Cummings, Whitman, Ginsberg, so on and so forth.
So a painter helped usher in a new era of painting styles and was lambasted and ridiculed and died poor, only to be remembered and heralded after her death. Or remember the black musicians who were the first ever to headline a show or perform with an all white band for an all white crowd, but soak into the lives of the poets who wrote honestly and realize the impacts they made.
Shelley, Percy B. “A Defence of Poetry.” The Critical Tradition: Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends. Ed. David H. Richter. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007. 361. Print.