our outcast state, our poverty if need be, our discomfort, our rage January 10, 2016Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
We had such a powerful faith in the rightness of our cause, such a deep belief that if we articulated our vision it must become the American vision, for surely our fellow citizens didn’t want innocent blood on their hands. I can remember feeling full of the power of a just cause and believing that power would not fail me. It failed me or I failed it. We didn’t really change the way Americans lived, unless you take hairstyles seriously. I think it killed something in us, the way something died in Wordwsorth and many of his contemporaries when the French Revolution went first violent and later bourgeois. Everything we spoke out in behalf of got watered down and marketed and then forgotten. Maybe I’m nuts or maybe I’m just tired, but that’s partly what I feel. Maybe it’s also the proliferation of the writing workshops; maybe academia has managed to rent and spay us. Maybe the various endowments have institutionalized and neutralized us, when in fact we should have kept our outcast state, our poverty if need be, our discomfort, our rage; we should have turned and lived with animals. I think I may simply be talking about myself, but maybe not.
— The Paris Review: The Art of Poetry 39: Philip Levine