1. The art or work of a poet.
Middle English, from Old French poete, from Latin poeta, from Greek poietes, maker, composer, from poiein, to create.
No one may define poetry except the poet. In like manner no one may define what art is except the artist. Those like editors and curators who may attempt to do so are often doomed to failure because often they are neither artists nor poets but erroneously they presume to know something about it.
Poetry acknowledged as such by hoi polloi is quite another matter. Those who are honest enough to say, “I do not know what art or poetry is (because I am not an artist or a poet), but I know what I like” acknowledge greatness not by reason but by instinct. The work has touched them, not intellectually but emotionally. When great numbers of people rise up and acclaim the poet then the powers that be give their assent saying “Of course, we knew it all the time!”
If the poet/artist’s colleagues should choose to critically comment upon the poet’s work let them do so in the proper spirit, lest they destroy their fellow in the process, or bring destruction upon themselves by the same unkind scrutiny of their own work.
So what then is our task? Let us attempt to determine if we are poets by aspiring to be such. Let us attempt learn and retain what details of mechanics, grammar, vocabulary, history, and traditions there may be, not only relating to poetry as we are in this class, this semester, but in years to come, about everything in the world. For truly the poet’s canvas is the world and to hope to understand this poet or that one, we must attempt to understand the world as well. Finally, I think we should attempt keep an open mind about what is good and bad, great and small, when considering the works of the poets, extending the benefit of the doubt as regards their poetic ability, based on a clear understanding of the limitations of our own.
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