‘…the way we assert our title is by writing…’

‘As poets, we have a title to assert – a part of our inheritance lies unclaimed. And the way we assert our title is by writing. The way we refute, say, the death of the sonnet, or the reported demise of the epic, is not by argument but by assertion. My sonnet asserts that the sonnet still lives. My epic, should such fortune befall me, asserts that the heroic narrative is not lost – that it is born again, perhaps in some form which seems hardly at first recognisable, but nevertheless, there it is, born again.

As poets we do not ask permission before we begin to practise, for there is no authority to license us. We do not inquire whether it is still possible to pen a drama, for the answer to that question is ours alone to give. It is our drama, spoken or sung, that asserts our right to the title of poet. It is our decision that counts, and not the opinion of some theatre management, or the ponderings of the critic, or even the advice of our friendliest mentors. It is our decision, our assertion, that alters the whole state of affairs.

This is possible, we assert, because this is what I have just done. This is achievable, because I wanted enough to achieve it.’

 – James Fenton, An Introduction to English Poetry

Advertisements

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: