I am interested in ideas about the role and nature of poetry, and have featured a number on WritingRedux. Featuring them doesn’t mean I fully agree with them, or consider them to be definitive. The poet’s role is sometimes to shed tears and feel sympathy for the losers, but does shedding tears ‘humanize the blood, sweat and toil of empire building’ in the sense of legitimizing it? I doubt that was Eyres’ intention, yet I had an uncomfortable image of an embedded poet following an invading army and shedding tears on its behalf at the collateral damage.
‘The poet’s role is to shed the tears, to feel the sympathy for the losers, that humanize the blood, sweat, toil of empire building.’
See also the quote-mosaic review of Harry Eyres’ splendid book on the charm and continuing relevance of Horace.
Source: Harry Eyres, Horace and Me: Life Lessons from an Ancient Poet (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013), p. 125