The death of Derek Walcott and Chuck berry prompt the question: what will happen to poetry? In their very different ways, the two men were working on opposite sides of the large gap in reading, which grew with the growth of amplified music. At least, with the invention of printing, poetry was written to read in silence and, perhaps, in solitude. The rhythmic subtleties Browning, Eliot, graves and Walcott, too, everything depends on the attention of the reader in a voice they can hear in their heads. It is not always and everywhere so; there are traditions, spells and rhodomontade. Kipling and Chesterton could write to a beat that pounds, and vigorous, was one of the most widely known poets, but they don’t often produce words that readers already folded in your heart, the light is protected from the wind.
Pleasures thin art of poetry, dependent on hearing the rhythm, which is not played, a pattern that persists in the absence of the same way that you can listen to music hearing the intervals between notes. The omnipresent amplified music is designed to be half listened to, along with the General noise of modern life dulls our ability to hear anything is not clear, and when it’s gone, most of the traditional skill of reading disappears with it. Poetry, at least, language sharpened to its finest edge. There should be no spare words in the poem more than it should be any missing. A large part of the bad poetry of the past which is not so much unread, as it is almost impossible to read today, violates these rules and is not missed when he completely forgot. But what about all the good that can be forgotten?
Poetry, music and religion were still indistinguishable, but they separated thousands of years ago in the West. In popular culture, at least, they are even more rallying. Of its kind, awarded the Nobel prize in literature, Bob Dylan recognized a huge shift. It is impossible to understand the implications of your words, when you first came to them written on the page. Without his vote, and the games it plays with music, they lose almost all its power. Energetic and witty lyrics of Chuck berry is not great poetry, in any dimension, but they are very memorable, and known to millions by heart, because they are embedded in the music, and this music is embedded in our memory and life. Even if 100,000 people can quote by heart Walcott today, that would be amazing.
This is a real loss, not just an expression of nostalgia. Poetry has survived in written form, but she comes alive in the heart. Just as the loss of knowledge of a foreign language hurts us and our children from the world experience that Google translate will never show us even a glimpse, the loss of attention needed to hear the verses, taking the population from one of the most profound experiences of humanity. But there is hope. It is almost the definition of great poetry is that it creates silence around him, that he should be heard simply as music. In a hundred years will still be kids who pick up Walcott and hear his voice speak clearly to their hearts.