Shadows, Smoke, Then Radiance.


Earlier this month the Government announced that poetry would no longer be a compulsory subject in English schools. This is a regressive step and it will have a severely deleterious effect upon our culture, in fact without poetry the English language will die. Poetry revives and alters language, once poetry is removed from our discourse this language is dead.

However there is evidence that English is already in terminal decline. Journalism is one example, as it has drifted further away from its origins as a witty and original form of writing. Today`s journalists lack the poetic sensibilities that once amused and engaged the populace, instead their writing is both staid and bland. The title of this Blog post is an allusion to the Michael Longley poem “The Candlelight Master”. The theme behind the poem is drawing out obscurity into light.

Some of the most obscure and rare ephemera in our lives are also the most beautiful and captivating, yet without poetry we will never experience these, at least in a philosophical sense. Plato understood this when he wrote “The Allegory of the Cave”, which was a study on enlightenment. The allegory focusses upon a community of cave dwellers who have never experienced anything outside, their only perceptions are of shadow and illusion, and the echoes of their own voices.

However these people only knew this one existence and for them this was complete reality. This is almost an analogy for our contemporary experience. The majority of people, especially the young only perceive reality from the cold, blue light that emits out of screens. The poet-philosopher in contrast reflects upon life as soon as he strikes the match to illuminate his candle lit dwelling. Candles cast a distinctly different sense of perception, they lend a radiance to the world. “The Candlelight Master” is almost a metaphor for a society that is growing rapidly unenlightened and ignorant, we must preserve our poetic tradition before we lose our dwindling civilisation completely.

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