From Seamus Heaney

“Here is the great paradox of poetry and of the imaginative arts in general. Faced with the brutality of the historical onslaught, they are practically useless. Yet they verify our singularity. they strike and stake out the ore of self which lies at the base of every individuated life. In one sense the efficacy of poetry is nil – no lyric has ever stopped a tank. In another sense, it is unlimited. It is like the writing in the sand in the face of which accusers and accused are left speechless and renewed.” (“The Governemnt of the Tongue” p 107)

Note: His observation is itself prompted by a letter by Eliot written in wartime London and as he was writing “Little Gidding” when he wondered if “fiddling with words and rhythms is justified activity.”

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