Is the poet a revolutionary, a radical helping to prod, drive, and lead humanity to create a more just world? The early William Wordsworth seemed to think so. Indeed, the Romantics helped drive an understanding of the role and work of the poet that was different from what had been understood before.
Literary editor, essayist, and professor Micah Mattix has a different view. “In the classical view,” he writes in The Soul is a Stranger in This World: Essays on Poets and Poetry, “the poet is not a Delphic oracle babbling esoteric lines unintelligible to the uninitiated, not a political mouthpiece of the regime or the revolutionaries, but the companion of the common man, sitting beside him, helping him wrestle with the questions he has, seeking first to understand and give meaningful expression to the problems and experiences and frustrations of life –to hint, suggest, explore, and point towards possible answers.” This poetry, he says, draws together a community and articulates its hopes and fears.
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