When I think of great poets, I think of ones who are dead and long gone. Why is that?
Also, more people worked in an agrarian atmosphere, or in other manual labor, where the mind was free to devote huge swaths of time to thought and composition.
I think only city folks who've never had to dig holes in hard soil, milk cows, collect eggs, toil the ground, plant seeds, etc., would think that farm work allows time for idle philosophical reflections :lol:
I have thought about this too; here are some ideas I have had:
1. The poetry that has survived through generations was the cream of the crop of its generation. Chances are that much of what has been written and published through the ages wasn't all that great, but only the good ones keep making it into new compilations and printings.
2. People used to write and speak more. OK, now everyone will think I'm being stupid, but it is true. Before the advent of TEEVEE and movies, people spent their time in actual conversation. I am often amazed at the eloquence found in the writings of 19th century American farmers, I've read quite a bit of pros, poetry and even simple journal accounts from this demographic. The absence of telephones, caused people to communicate more in writing, evenings were spent reading and speaking, parlors had not been replaced with TEEVEE rooms and home theaters. Also, more people worked in an agrarian atmosphere, or in other manual labor, where the mind was free to devote huge swaths of time to thought and composition.
3. It is a LOT easier and cheaper now to publish. In the mid 1800s it took 2-3 man days to produce a quality leather bound book. Printers and publishers took a huge risk in running 5,000 copies. A 5,000 copy printing would cost the printer about the same as a nice home and a working farm.
4. You may just be partial to certain styles of poetry which are no longer popular.
On the whole, there is probably a lot of good poetry being published today, but I think there are 100 poor works published for every really good one, and perhaps 500 for every GREAT work published.
SFG75, who do you consider great poets and what make them great? What is it about poetry written after 1980 that you dislike?