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This article is taken from PN Review 14, Volume 6 Number 6, July - August 1980.

Richard Poole

David Wright is that unfashionable thing, a poet who maintains a belief in art as panegyric, who takes his business to be the celebration of what exists. There is an especial rightness about his maintenance of this faith: I must think it founded, at least in part, upon his own mastering of "vicissitude"-most of all of that absolute deafness which descended on him at the age of seven. His poetic faith, then, is not a facile or cerebral matter, but something to which he has won through the hard way. And to those inclined still to regard it as over-optimistic I would say this: that there are perhaps two kinds of optimism: the optimism of innocence before it meets, and is destroyed by experience; and the optimism which is a transformation of innocence under the pressure of experience. This latter quality persists in a person who has perceived that it is possible for human virtues to survive the most desperate trials, seen even that those virtues could not be thought of as such did not merely the possibility but the reality of trial exist. Thus the first kind of optimism is a form of ignorance, the second a form of knowledge.

The poet who celebrates the sensual world is necessarily concerned with definition, with capturing and nailing down experience in language. I imagine that the genuine artist, whether he works with paint, sounds, wood, stone, words or whatever, cannot rest satisfied with himself (which means intermittently in ...


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