What it’s like to be human, by Mark Strand



If every head of state
and every government official
spent an hour
a day reading poetry
we’d live in a much more humane and decent world …

Poetry delivers an inner life
that is articulated to the reader.

People have inner lives, but they are poorly expressed
and rarely known. They have
no language
by which to bring it out
into the open.

Two people deeply in love can look at each other
and not have much to say except
“I love you.” It gets
kind of boring
after a while —
after the first ten or twenty years …

When we read poems from the past we realize
that human beings have always been
the way we are.

We have technological advancements
undreamt of
a couple of thousand years ago,
but the way people felt then
is pretty much the way people feel now.

We can read those poems with pleasure
because we recognize ourselves in them.

Poetry helps us imagine what it’s like to be human.

I wish more politicians
and heads of state would begin to imagine
what it’s like to be human.


Mark Strand, from an interview with Inscape, September 17, 2013

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