And on Poetry

May 1, 2006 @ 3:28 am | Filed under:

“There are some things we learn in order to know them and some things we learn in order to live with them. If you wish to learn how to drive a car safely or how to manufacture hydrochloric acid, then it will be better not to turn to books of poetry for instruction. But if you wish to know or to remember how it feels still to be in love with a person who has done you most dreadful wrong and to serach desperately for a way to forgive that person so you can go on loving, then Facts on File is no help, nor the IBM PC Computer Operator’s Manual. We need to learn, probably, the basic skills of driving automoblies only once; the other lesson, how to feel and behave in a difficult love affair, we must learn again and again. Then we turn to poetry.”

—Fred Chappell, “The Function of the Poet,” Plow Naked: Selected Writings on Poetry

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