26 September 2010

Looking outside is a duty

Since poetry started, poets have been global, at least in the sense that, unlike ordinary mortals, they have always been open to foreign influences.  When Ezra Pound opened himself up to Chinese culture, he learned his greatest lesson, as articulated in this 2010 text:
"Pound’s artistic credo was ‘Make it new,’ borrowed from the inscription in the bathtub of the legendary Chinese emperor Tang, who founded the Shang dynasty in the sixteenth century bc. Pound made poetry new by globalizing its language and expanding its subject matter to all that the human mind can encompass. The most astonishing accomplishment of The Cantos was the mad courage of its conception."
Because many readers have neither the time nor the chance to partake of the banquet of foreign cultures, they look to poets to furnish them with the vicarious experience of living outside their own country and their own century.  In effect, being multilingual or multicultural is a duty, rather than just a preference, of the poet.

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