Reading can extend life, as Umberto Eco put it: a reader can live 5000 years as opposed to the three score and ten biblical allocation.  Here, Bloom gives a sense of poetry that allows at least a momentary suspension of time, a stilling of the ticking clock, or ‘a time without boundaries’.  It may be a fiction, but the ‘illumined space of the poem’ can give us a reprieve.

I also love his understanding of the purpose of teaching. How many teachers have the luxury of seeing themselves in such a role, rather than as just the custodians of exam results?

‘After well more than half a century of teaching superb students the art of reading poetry, I begin to understand that the purpose of teaching is to extend the blessing of more life.   Even at their most skeptical or despairing, the poems in this book intimate a time without boundaries, though that time is a fiction of duration, the illuminated space of the poem.’

Source: Till I End My Song: A gathering of last poems, Harold Bloom (ed), New York: HarperCollins, 2010, p. xxvii

Photo credit: Heather Emond,


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