I took out my dusty old copy of The White Goddess by Robert Graves this winter and found in it, these passages which give me food for thought:
Indian mystics hold that to think with perfect clarity in a religious sense one must first eliminate all physical desire, even the desire to continue living; but this is not at all the case with poetic thinking, since poetry is rooted in love, and love in desire, and desire in hope of continued existence
.... 'What is the use or function of poetry nowadays?' is a question not the less poignant for being defiantly asked by so many stupid people or apologetically answered by so many silly people. The function of poetry is religious invocation of the Muse; its use is the experience of mixed exaltation and horror that her presence excites. But 'nowadays'? Function and use remain the same; only application has changed. This was once a warning to man that he must keep harmony with the family of living creatures among which he was born, by obedience to the wishes of the lady of the house; it is now a reminder that he has disregarded the warning, turned the house upside down by capricious experiments in philosophy, science and industry, and brought ruin to himself and his family. 'Nowadays' is a civilization in which the prime emblems of poetry are dishonoured. In which serpent, lion and eagle belong to the circus tent; ox, salmon and boar to the cannery; racehorse and greyhound to the betting ring; and the sacred grove to the sawmill. In which the Moon is despised as a burned-out satellite of the Earth and woman reckoned as 'auxiliary State personel'. In which money will buy almost anything but truth, and almost anyone but the truth-possessed poet.