Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Heidegger, meet Billy Collins

Thanks to my friend and colleague Jay Wood for pointing out this piece by Adam Kirsch from a recent edition of Poetry:

Ours does not promise to go down in literary history as a great age of religious poetry. Yet if contemporary poetry is not often religious, it is still intensely, covertly metaphysical. Human nature, it seems, compels us to keep asking about the first things, even if we no longer accept the same answers that our ancestors did, or even the same kind of answers. The more widely you read, in fact, the clearer it becomes that our poetry has a distinctive metaphysics, a set of principles or intuitions held in common by poets as different as Seamus Heaney, Charles Simic, and Billy Collins. This metaphysical sensibility, I think, is what will give our period a retrospective unity, when readers of the future come to survey what looks to us like chaos. And the best document of that sensibility—the single piece of writing that does the most to explain what our poetry believes, and the ways it expresses that belief—is an essay by Martin Heidegger, "The Origin of the Work of Art."

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