I was asked to guest- teach at Western State College in Gunnison this week. The organizers put us up at a large ranch, with many critters, giant sky, a kitchen full of s'mores, and a library to die for.
Well, I thought, what can I possibly say to these senior English majors that they haven't heard a thousand times before...
Shall I speak of sonics, rhythm, prosody, process, concision, revision, publishing, influence, assonance, consonance, confluence, flatulence...
Shall I mention that poetry, like any other sacred science, is a wisdom tool.
Well, of course I did all that.
Blah blah blah.
But I also gave them this small ars poetica, and told them, rather emphatically, they'd do well to study it for a year.
Give thanks for all things
On the plucked lute, and likewise
The harp of ten strings.
Have the lifted horn
Greatly blare, and pronounce it
Good to have been born.
Lend the breath of life
To the stops of the sweet flute
Or capering fife,
And tell the deep drum
To make, at the right juncture,
Then, in grave relief,
Praise too our sorrows on the
Cello of shared grief.
- Richard Wilbur