November 17, 2011

a love affair

"The poem is a love-affair between the poet and his subject, and readers come in only a long time later, as witnesses at the wedding. But what would the ideal witnesses—the ideal public—be? What would an ideal public do? Mainly, essentially, it would just read the poet; read him with a certain willingness and interest; read him imaginatively and perceptively. It needs him, even if it doesn’t know that; he needs it, even if he doesn’t know that. It and he are like people in one army, one prison, one world; their interests are great and common; and deserve a kind of declaration of dependence"

randall jarrell (Nashville, TN, 1914-Chapel Hill, NC, 1965), excerpt from the lecture Poets, Critics, and Readers, delivered at the start of his second year as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress —currently Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry—, October 1957, as quoted in 'Randall Jarrell in Washington', an article by Peter Montgomery published in the Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Volume 10.4, Fall 2009