A Small Poetics

A poetess, invited to submit
her verse—a friendly offer— answered back:
“Your editorial policies don’t fit
my own advanced ideas; I’d be a hack

if I were to contribute. Life is short,
and poems few; I want them to do good,
and advertise my causes.” That retort
astonished me. So poems, briefly, should

be activist endeavors, meant to serve
some special interest? I cannot believe
Erato and Polymnia deserve
demotion thus, or that they can achieve

their own fulfillment in a servile role
promoting “progress.” Poetry is art
and not reform; it is the very soul
of life and thought, their lasting counterpart.

Envoi

Tradition—that’s the unforgiven sin.
Why did I ever think to ask her in?

By Catharine Savage Brosman


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