I have been reading with singularly little pleasure some modern poetry in Horizon magazine. What can you expect of poets who keep on thinking about the “happiness of the common people”, as if happiness could be an “ideal”. They remind me of those thick-headed Babbitts who drew up the American Declaration of Independence and who announced the “pursuit of happiness” as a political aim. The poets’ contemporary left-wing opinions have no real political significance; they have not faced up to the fact that the new world for which they are rooting will be just as immoral and selfish as the old. They still believe in Santa Claus. To me that makes all the they have to hint about the future childish and silly. The only hope for the future is that more political intelligence will be applied to our problems so that the machine will not break down again. It is first of all a technical problem. But that it will be a better world for poetry to flourish in is poisonous nonsense.
20 April 2017
Childish and Silly
Charles Ritchie, entry for 8 November 1941, The Siren Years: A Canadian Diplomat Abroad 1937-1945 (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2001), p. 131: