Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Every Thing by Excess

TNY May 18, 2009

from "Slang-Whanger" by Arthur Krystal on William Hazlitt:

When discussing Shakespeare's Coriolanus, Hazlitt examined the nature of poetry itself:
The language of poetry naturally falls in with the language of power. . . . The principle of poetry is a very anti-levelling principle. It aims at effect, it exists by contrast. It admits of no medium. It is every thing by excess. It rises above the ordinary standard of sufferings and crimes. It presents a dazzling appearance. . . . Poetry is right-royal. It puts the individual for the species, the one above the infinite many, might before right. A lion hunting a flock of sheep or a herd of wild assess is a more poetical object than they; and we even take part with the lordly beast, because our vanity or some other feeling makes us disposed to place ourselves in the situation of the strongest party.

Hazlitt's words ring true to my ears. The lure of power is what draws me to poetry. Recognizing this is a necessary first step towards handling that power. 

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