Class In Poetry –Robert M. Shelby, 11-22-11. [558 txt wds]

Poetry alludes. It has context, background in history and biography, a foreground in common experience, and when these are missing, it only eludes. It becomes hard to pin down. It becomes vague, unclear, even finally ridiculous and uninteresting, save maybe for its music or the glassy glitter of its words on the page. Apart from whatever other qualities poetry may have, it offers at best the authoritative expression of humanly significant language.

It evokes an experience of something worthwhile. It makes you want to quote it to others and read it again. Poetry offers a sense that over-arches its details without over-reaching them. It resides or occurs within them, above them, beneath and around, never quite beyond them. It never gets lost in details or away from details.

If it lacks music it must at least hold interesting phrases, clever figures of speech, apt metaphors and reference to sensible things, things which are beautiful and necessary or ugly unneeded things transformed in the poem to fine and vitally meaningful feelings. If it lacks this power or transformation, it is no more than jugglery of empty words, most likely to be lost in translation. It was not even chopped-up prose. Poetry is a thing of heart, mind and the senses. If a poem has heart, mind and offers sensory appeal, it will shine through translation. If a person has heart, mind and good sense, he or she will shine through all situations and vicissitudes.

Poetry founded on pseudo-class generates discontent in the excluded audience unless that part of the populace is so skillfully manipulated into false consciousness that it may be managed with total success as a domestic animal. Otherwise, mock-class rouses opposition to itself on ethical grounds and is vulnerable to critical attack unless it has become monolithically cohesive and preponderantly the majority. A social class based on pretended quality that reduces only to money stirs resentment among those with less or poorer property. A poor person may have higher quality and more class than a multi-billionaire, though the rich person be surrounded with utmost, material elegance. Poems of pseudo-class glitter with name-dropped places, persons and possessions, so much so, sometimes, that it becomes clear, their authors show virtually no class at all.

Classes are artifacts of sociology and political science. True class can be found at every level of finance in society, just as people with no class whatsoever can be found at every level from bottom to top. Classiness cannot be bought. It is gained only by good rearing and education in humanity both in school and from wide experience of life. It has become glaringly noticable that real class has become scarce on the political Ultra-Right. (Yes, the same holds true for the most extreme Left. Nor do we see any really good poets at either end. We see a few versifiers, ironists and poetasters, most of them on the Right buyable or paid-for like “think-tank” denizens. On the too-far left, poets throw their stuff into underground ‘rags’ of small circulation.) Class is created by ethical and moral value, not market values. Market values split the people down into classes. Poetic value puts everything together again.

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