Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 3, No. 4. 1940
[Editoral Reply to Critique of 'Short Discourse on Poetry']
The author of the "Short Discourse" being indisposed, the Literary Editor takes it upon himself to reply.
God save us! You who are litterateurs will remember with what odium the Quarterly Review, attacked the Cockney poets, and John Keats. But the epithets of these righteous gentlemen are sweet as honey compared with "blasphemous coprology". The world has many a one and one age wears scarlet and another purple, what is apt for one age is out of place in the next - so if the "Grapes of Wrath" is not clad in the holy light of Shelley, we have no right to be perverse. This is twentieth century, and writers obey themselves and their audience.
I agree wholly with the spirit of this defence of poets. Poets are" the mirrors of the gigantic shadows which futurity casts upon the present, the words which express what they understand not the trumpets which sing to battle .. the unacknowledged legislators of the world." But recognising this, how are we to decide in Individual cases, and should any decision be made?
It seems to no that John Steinbeck is the author of some thing more eternal than most of our "poets". If this be true he is poet, and it is falso to draw a distiaction between prose and poetry saying one is eternal and divine, the other reeks of materialism. . There is no distinction except that of form. Both are the children of the blind urge to create which impels men through the mises of the world, and both are twins born of man's doubts, fears, conflicts, desires and aspirations. Both prose and poetry are Digressions, to be read and enjoyed. Let there be no standards. Above, all we must remember the ago decides - will always decide - cannot escape the mystery and mastery of the age.