Thoreau has many striking things to say about poets, and even if I can’t seize on them as definitive or universal in their application, they make me think. This one is a little clunky in its expression, as if he is thinking out loud, but I like the idea of the poet as the necessary distancer, one who teases out the universally significant from the present, past and future.
‘It is the faculty of the poet to see present things as if, in this sense, also past and future, as if distant or universally significant.’ 8 December 1859
Source: Henry David Thoreau, The Journal 1837-1861, Damion Searls (ed.), preface by John R. Stilgoe (New York: New York Review Books, 2009), p. 588
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