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Who Reads Poetry?   5 comments

To Make Soft II 05-22-14 blog“Who Reads Poetry/” — Image by kenne


Who reads poetry? Not our intellectuals:
they want to control it. Not lovers, not the combative,
not examinees. They too skim it for bouquets
and magic trump cards. Not poor schoolkids
furtively farting as they get immunized against it.

Poetry is read by the lovers of poetry
and heard by some more they coax to the cafe
or the district library for a bifocal reading.
Lovers of poetry may total a million people
on the whole planet. Fewer than the players of skat.

What gives them delight is a never-murderous skim
distilled, to verse mainly, and suspended in rapt
calm on the surface of paper. The rest of poetry
to which this was once integral still rules
the continents, as it always did. But on condition now

that its true name is never spoken. This feral poetry,
the opposite but also the secret of the rational,
who reads that? Ah, the lovers, the schoolkids, 
debaters, generals, crime-lords, everybody reads it:
Porsche, lift-off, Gaia, Cool, patriarchy.

— from the poem, “THE INSTRUMENT” by Les Murray

DoubleTake, Fall, 1999

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