Spirit of Poetry, Companion of Conscience

Helen Vendler, in a piece in the NY Times Book Review yesterday, on a newly-edited selected poems of Wallace Stevens, quote this passage from an award speech Stevens gave before the Poetry Society of America (when he was 72) :

"Individual poets, whatever their imperfections may be, are driven all their lives by that inner companion of the conscience which is, after all, the genius of poetry in their hearts and minds. I speak of a companion of the conscience because to every faithful poet, the faithful poem is an act of conscience."

This chimed somewhat, for me, with a previous post ("Ethos of Wayfaring").


Joseph Duemer said...

Great that you noticed this -- the Selected is edited by my friend and Clarkson Colleague John Serio. And I love that phrase "faithful conscience."

Henry Gould said...

Have been thinking a lot lately, in a vague sort of way, about this idea of poetry - or maybe any imaginative art form - as a medium through which people express a sort of characteristic overflow of sociability. The Muse as imaginary friend. With whom we try to articulate & resolve, semi-consciously perhaps, our difficulties - problems of conscience. Dante's definition of mankind : "animale compagnevole", the companionable animal.