For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives
In the valley of its saying where executives
Would never want to tamper; it flows south
From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs,
Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives,
A way of happening, a mouth.
W. H. Auden’s poem In Memory of W. B. Yeats declares the inability of poetry yet simultaneously writes how it survives through times. Poetry has existed far before anyone could imagine and inarguably stands with its greatness and values in the literature field. Thus, to point out its lack of ability in reality is quite challenging, yet seems pretty persuasive.
Doubting the values of poetry may be shocking but it still seems valid to me, despite the fact that I myself is an English literature major. As Auden implied, poetry does not have power within itself to bring about changes nor revolutions. ‘Executives’ in the real world are not attracted to these since important arguments are not ignited from several words of a poet.
Nonetheless, poetry ‘survives.’ Poetry brightens up areas where powerplay does not take place but remains to be read from someone at the time or in the future. For example, Korean poet Yun Dong-ju, wrote poems to show his sense of shame of not being able to lead a conscientious life in the period of Japanese colonial period in Korea. Though subtle in terms of defending one’s country, it represents so many repressed actions and thoughts of that depressing time. His poems are still read today in respect and survives within the nation’s hearts because ‘poetry survives.’
Education wise, the Fourth Industrial Revolution Wave has hit poetry hard too. Liberal arts remain questioned to survive in the tech-storm, with education values shifting to the new paradigm. In the past, education was a privilege and limited to the wealthy. It has been only 150 years since a curriculum for all students have been made in Korea after the Civil Revolution. But thanks to this, our country has developed rapidly by providing education and therefore being able to have intelligent labor forces.
But because this education system was made in modern industrial society’s background, it shares lots of features with factories or even prisons. The education system only targets a mass instead of individuals. Students are locked up in classrooms and are only delivered information unilaterally. And because it focuses on nurturing elites to help the country, education is often swept with fads. These days, coding and programming is the new trend and schools are almost forcing students to learn new technology as mandatory subjects under the objective to develop STEAM education. Should this be the answer to the new wave and learners? Is this how poetry dies in the 21st century?
We mustn’t neglect poetry although it might seem idle compared to AI or robots. The future may run on machines and technology but it will still need human intellects with distinct ability of deep thinking and emotions, hence the direction of future education should value liberal arts. Creativity will become even more crucial in the future where labor and consumption are estimated to decrease; since then, the goal of life will be to live a relaxed and fulfilled life then compete for resources. Everyone anticipates changes and innovation but some will keep their ground, silently praising the power within some words and phrases since ‘poetry survives.’