David and Goiath: The Tale of Poetry

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David and Goliath: The Tale of Poetry
The utility of poetry has been debated for thousands of years; around 2,500 years ago Plato called for it to be banned for its lack of utility. Plato’s views on poetry were not wrong; looking at it from a purely practical point of view, poetry is not a necessity. It is incomparable to what society considers essential – medicine, technology, leadership. If there were an apocalypse in the future, and we could select only a few people to survive it, the poet would not stand a chance. And yet, this is not necessarily a bad thing. When something is considered useful, it must always be useful; there is a lot of pressure on scientists to continue to invent, and continue to help. This pressure to be productive and to consistently strive for perfection is not placed upon the shoulders of poets, who must understand that their craft is not, rationally speaking, necessary for survival. Along with society’s acknowledgments, the philosophers and engineers, Plato’s logical giants – the Goliaths of the world – will also get its expectations. The poets, like David from the biblical story, will match the Goliaths by using a different strength, not the tool of pragmatism. They are underestimated, and the lack of expectations on them gives them their strength: the room to be foolish, to be blunt, and to be imperfect. In short, poetry is useful because we do not think it is; as Sylvia Plath’s brutally truthful poems demonstrate, in poetry there is freedom to
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