No, not what passes for poetry these days. Satire, lamentation, misty longing, erotic yearning, or even fleeting exuberance, verbose and intellectually challenging as it is—oh how far off (the golden) track poetry has stumbled!
No, it’s Goethe, penned in 1853. And the year is important. Because in keeping years in mind one eventually grasps a vital truth: that genius is passed along from generation to generation—unless of course one generation recoils from the immense task and thus hampers or impedes the flow. It’s as if each generation’s paramount genius WERE THE SAME PERSON, incarnated over and over again, working under differing circumstances but bringing the same faculties into play, their work a direct continuation from he who came before, a further blossoming from the tree of poetic life.
Listen to the Poet’s Words:
“Human need, aggravated by the course of history, leaps backward over intelligent leadership, confuses priestly, folk, and primitive beliefs, grabs now here, now there, at traditions, submerges itself in mysteries, sets fairy tales in the place of poetry, and elevates these to articles of belief. Instead of intelligently instructing and quickly influencing, people now strew seeds and weeds together indiscriminately on all sides; no central point is offered any more on which to concentrate, but every-odd individual steps forward as leader and teacher, and gives forth his perfect folly as a perfected whole.”—Goethe, 1853
Nietzsche followed Goethe, and descended into madness in 1890; and Oswald Spengler, hardly known or read today, drew nourishment from both in the early years of the twentieth century.
Following Spengler, reading his monumental Decline Of The West as many as seven times, came Joseph Campbell. This brings the flow of genius through to the heady days of the 1960’s.
Where it’s gone from there, what worthy has taken up the torch, I’m not sure. The thread has somewhat unraveled. Casting about as much as I have, metaphorically peering under every rock, I’ve yet to meet our own present day Poet avatar.
Pretenders there are aplenty. That sort of comes with the times.
Anyway, the Omphalos Cafe has always been a nice quiet place.
It makes listening easier….