The Good News of Poetry That Can Win the Day

October 6, 2014 4:17 PM

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The news is not all discouraging. We hear from scientists that, in spite of the fact that the sun is scheduled to explode and incinerate earth, we have five billion years until then to figure out Plan B. This would seem to be time enough to reassure us; our great minds can get right on this. Jonathan Schell, in The Fate of the Earth, argues that the most profound threat to humans, and obstacle in our planning for Plan B, is despair. If we do not have hope, he argues, we wallow in the mires of Despondency, a state of apathy that renders our human imagination, creativity, courage and practical resourcefulness useless.

So how do we generate essential hope in our human capacity to address our problems? William Carlos Williams, known to many of us as the unrepentant kitchen rascal eating the cold plums in the refrigerator, wrote a poem ("To Asphodel, That Greeny Flower") which says, "My heart rouses, thinking to bri...

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