Friday, March 25, 2011
"Nothing new under the sun" so write about the sun.
There is no clearer sign of the absence of originality among modern poets than their dispostion to find new topics. Really original poets write poems about the spring. They are always fresh, just as the spring is always fresh. Men wholly without originality write poems about torture, or new religions or some perversion of obscenity, hoping that the mere sting of the subject may speak for them. But we do not sufficiently realize that what is true of the classic ode is also true of the classic joke. A true poet writes about the spring being beautiful because (after a thousand springs) the spring really is beautiful. In the same way the true humorist writes about a man sitting down on his hat because the act of sitting down on one's own hat (however often and admirably performed) really is extremely funny. We must not dismiss a new poet because his poem is called 'To a Skylark'; nor must we dismiss a humorist because his new farce is called 'My Mother-in-Law.' He may really have splendid and inspiring things to say upon an eternal problem. The whole question is whether he has. GK Chesterton - Introduction to 'Sketches by Boz.'