Shakespeare on the Uses of Poetry

Truly, I would the gods had made thee poetical.“Truly, I would the gods had made thee poetical.”
(As You Like It, act 3, sc. 3)

Comments.  The Greeks had not one but four Muses of Poetry, Calliope (Epic poetry), Euterpe (Lyric poetry), Thalia Pastoral poetry) and Polyhymnia (Sacred poetry). Suggesting that poetry was more embedded in life and thought that our contemporaries may think.
But in an editorial at the beginning of year 2012 the Guardian wrote, “If new year’s resolutions are about self-improvement then politicians should surely be making longer lists than most, and somewhere on those lists, below rekindling the spluttering flame of the economy, should be embracing the English language. Like a sculptor’s chisel or a fisherman’s net, language is the statesman’s essential tool, yet many aspiring leaders are content to spew out dry management-speak that has become the stale norm. In times of crisis, should politicians be more timid in their language or more bold? Replace the word “language” with “leadership” and you have the answer. Crises require leadership, leadership requires oratory. As Kennedy said of Churchill, “when Britain stood alone … he mobilised the English language and sent it into battle”. Churchill had the two gifts that great orators need: the ear and the heart of a poet. He even exchanged poems with FDR during one of the bleakest periods of the war (Roosevelt sent Longfellow, Churchill responded with Arthur Hugh Clough). Consider the deep, textured prose of Gladstone, the fiery energy of Lloyd George or the imagery of Martin Luther King, whose “I have a Dream” speech was poetry plain and simple. Politics must lift people’s sights to greater things (much optimism here, I am afraid). The English language is equal to the task. Politicians should resolve to use it to better effect in 2012.”
On the other hand, T.S. Eliot, at the end of his appropriately titled “Uses of Poetry and Uses of Criticism”, “…Poetry begins, I dare say, with a savage beating a drum in a jungle, and it retains that essential percussion and rhythm… Poetry may effect revolutions in sensibility such as are periodically needed.”

Tips for Use.  Self-healing line to think of, if and when you hear the usual, stale, repeated, over-used and meaningless bla-bla-bla whether in management or in politics. Or if your girlfriend fails to recognize any poetical quotes you may make. Or a good come-back to an asinine remark by someone in your audience or a political adversary.

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In the Play. Touchstone is courting Audrey but she does not understand his sallies.

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