I am immensely moved by this Richard Rorty essay written just before his death, with this staggering closing paragraph:
However that may be, I now wish that I had spent somewhat more of my life with verse. This is not because I fear having missed out on truths that are incapable of statement in prose. There are no such truths; there is nothing about death that Swinburne and Landor knew but Epicurus and Heidegger failed to grasp. Rather, it is because I would have lived more fully if I had been able to rattle off more old chestnuts — just as I would have if I had made more close friends. Cultures with richer vocabularies are more fully human — farther removed from the beasts — than those with poorer ones; individual men and women are more fully human when their memories are amply stocked with verses.
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He was an interesting man and I can’t say I agree with everything he wrote, but I do like that paragraph you quote. Anyone who wishes he read more poetry can’t be all that bad 🙂
Agree with everything you’ve said. He has succeeded in prompting me to spend more time with poetry.
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