Hesitation, doubt, and ambiguity

Bill Keller proposes that the current occupants of the Capitol would benefit from a little poetry:

Poetry is no substitute for courage or competence, but properly applied, it is a challenge to self-certainty, which we currently have in excess. Poetry serves as a spur to creative thinking, a rebuke to dogma and habit, an antidote to the current fashion for pledge signing.

He quotes from William Carlos Williams (somehow I had remembered these lines as coming from Whitman): “It is difficult/to get the news from poems/yet men die miserably every day/for lack/of what is found there.”

His colleague David Orr suggests some works that might serve as antidotes to the paralysis. I think Kay Ryan’s “All You Did” is especially pertinent.

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