I am grateful for - though I can't keep up with - the flood of articles, theses, and textbooks that mean to share insight concerning the nature of poetry.
In nature there are few sharp lines.
I must stress here the point that I appreciate clarity, order, meaning, structure, rationality: they are necessary to whatever provisional stability we have, and they can be the agents of gradual and successful change.
That's a wonderful change that's taken place, and so most poetry today is published, if not directly by the person, certainly by the enterprise of the poet himself, working with his friends.
Even if you walk exactly the same route each time - as with a sonnet - the events along the route cannot be imagined to be the same from day to day, as the poet's health, sight, his anticipations, moods, fears, thoughts cannot be the same.
If a poem is each time new, then it is necessarily an act of discovery, a chance taken, a chance that may lead to fulfillment or disaster.
Everything is discursive opinion instead of direct experience.
I can't tell you where a poem comes from, what it is, or what it is for: nor can any other man. The reason I can't tell you is that the purpose of a poem is to go past telling, to be recognised by burning.
If we ask a vague question, such as, 'What is poetry?' we expect a vague answer, such as, 'Poetry is the music of words,' or 'Poetry is the linguistic correction of disorder.
You have your identity when you find out, not what you can keep your mind on, but what you can't keep your mind off.
Besides the actual reading in class of many poems, I would suggest you do two things: first, while teaching everything you can and keeping free of it, teach that poetry is a mode of discourse that differs from logical exposition.
Once every five hundred years or so, a summary statement about poetry comes along that we can't imagine ourselves living without.
Poetry leads us to the unstructured sources of our beings, to the unknown, and returns us to our rational, structured selves refreshed.
Probably all the attention to poetry results in some value, though the attention is more often directed to lesser than to greater values.
The poet exposes himself to the risk. All that has been said about poetry, all that he has learned about poetry, is only a partial assurance.