Poetry Today: The Most Humane of the Arts

It is commonplace, amongst poets and readers of poetry today, to lament the decline in the appreciation of verse in contemporary society. Past eras are recalled—or imagined—when poems were learnt by heart; when poetry-reciting was a feature of popular culture, and it was taken for granted that the well-educated and well-read man or woman would, amongst their various accomplishments, be able to quote at length from the classics of poetry, and recognise, immediately, this or that allusion to a poem and be able to identify its author. Certainly, it would once have been considered extraordinary—ludicrous, even—that a graduate in (or…

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