It’s time to do a little more repining

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This is a little off beat, but excellent, by poet Alice Oswald in the Guardian a couple of days ago on her reasons for withdrawing from the T S Elliott prize of the Poetry Book Society:

I think it's often assumed that the role of poetry is to comfort, but for me, poetry is the great unsettler. It questions the established order of the mind. It is radical, by which I don't mean that it is either leftwing or rightwing, but that it works at the roots of thinking. It goes lower than rhetoric, lower than conversation, lower than logic, right down to the very faint honest voice at the bottom of the skull. You can hear that voice in a letter written by the 16th‑century poet Thomas Wyatt to his son: "No doubt in any thing you do, if you ask yourself or examine the thing for yourself afore you do it, you shall find, if it be evil, a repining against it. My son, for our Lord's love, keep well that repining …"

That is the best instruction you could ever give a poet: whether you're examining a bad line in a poem or a bad motive for action, keep well your repining – meaning don't ignore the honest muttering in your head.

We need a great deal more repining, I suggest, if we are to make progress as a society.

Disclosure (although not very relevant): I am a member of te Poetry Book Society and recommend it, even if I share Alice Oswald's concerns.