An unanswerable case against poetry



Having considered that matter in – of course – all its aspects, I have decided that there is no excuse for poetry. Poetry gives no adequate return in money, is expensive to print by reason of the waste of space occasioned by its form, and nearly always promulgates illusory concepts of life. But a better case for the banning of all poetry is the simple fact that most of it is bad. No one is going to manufacture a thousand tons of jam in the expectation that five tons may be eatable. Furthermore, poetry has the effect on the negligible handful of those who read it of stimulating them to write poetry themselves. One poem, if widely disseminated, will breed perhaps a thousand inferior copies. The same objection cannot be made in the case of painting or sculture, because these occupations afford employment for artisans who produce the materials. Moreover, poets are usually unpleasant people who are poor and insist forever on discussing that incredibly boring subject, ‘books’.

Myles na Gopaleen The Best of Myles (Picador 1975) p 239

Image: Karl Spitsweg Der Arme Poet (The Poor Poet)

12 thoughts on “An unanswerable case against poetry

      1. Yes I have. A lot of the lyrics to our songs are mine. One, I borrowed, with permission, from a great American poet, Shelby Cortland for the song The Rose of Black is Sacred.

          1. Shelby has a power in her words. It comes from the bottom of her soul. What is going on with the police and their racial profiling and murder is wrong and has to stop. I could see the beauty in her words and thought they would make excellent lyrics for the song.

          2. Would you two consider sending an email to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor? A 12 year old black boy was shot by police and they just let him off. I want them to know that the world is watching. Just google the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s web page and there is a contact place. I want them to know that the world is watching and this is outrageous. The more people who do this the greater the power. This is what I sent them:Mr. McGinty, how can you justify what just happened in regards to a 12 year old boy, Tamir Rice. The world is looking and it is horrified at this injustice. Until justice prevails it will happen again and again. This is just wrong and deep in your heart you must know this.
            Leslie Martel

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