istries of culture to take note. Howeverrnfew eopies were sold of these germinalrnworks, they were reviewed and discussed,rnmaking their impact on literary discoursernand the literary consciousness of theirrntime. No writer after that could ignorernEliot or Stevens or Conrad Aiken—orrneven Floyd Dell’s hijinks in issuing arnsatirical manifesto. They were injectedrninto the bloodstream of contemporaryrnliterature, were part of the cultural Zeitgeist.rnPublication at the time of thernequivalent of Jimmy Carter’s maunderingsrnwould have been treated with thernsame scorn as a new volume of inspirationalrnverses by Edgar Guest—pulp poetryrnand little more, with the publicityrnvalue of a painter who held the brush betweenrnhis toes.rnA publisher who took himself more seriouslyrnthan a literary bookie publishedrnverse, as a professional imperative. Seriousrnmagazines published verse, and asrnlate as the 1950’s and 1960’s, it could bernread in publications such as Commentaryrnor Modern Age, and even National Reviewrnfound room for more than lightrnverse. The literary supplements did notrnconsider reviews of poetry a waste ofrnspace or journalistic condescension.rnOnce upon a time, too, poetry was readrnand memorized in grammar and secondarvrnschools—and poets were notrnlooked upon as creators of an esotericrngraffiti. Now, one by one the “intellectual”rnmagazines are eliminating verse fromrntheir fare, or using it as filler. Bookrnpublishers—many of them competingrnagainst breakfast cereals as units of corporaternconglomerates—grunt that “poetrvrndoesn’t sell” or is irrelevant in an agernwhich nroves from technology to technology’rnand computer to computer. Sornthe writing of verse, even when it seesrnprint, becomes a response to an itch, orrnan obscure passion like Nero Wolfe’s cultivationrnof orchids. Booksellers respondrnby relegating verse to a shelf south of therngreeting cards. And the National Endowmentrnfor the Arts, when it is not toornbusy rewarding honiophilic and urinaryrnphotography, operates as a WPA forrnunemployed writers.rnhi the years that followed the 1912 renascence,rnAmerica not only began evolvingrna new and important voice, butrnseized the initiative from the British.rnThere were pitifully few other poeticrnvoices in the world—Garcia Lorca, AntoniornMachado, and Miguel de Unamunornin Spain, Rilke in Germany, andrnperhaps Osip Mandelstam in Russia.rnThe British hesitatingly gave us WystanrnAuden, and the French some interestingrnvoices from the post-World War IIrnMontmartre. The death of TheodorernRoethke, however, was a requiem, forrnwhat other serious voices had beenrnheard? Erica Jong? There were of coursernothers—Roethke was not alone—butrnthey were unknown to the literary woridrnof getting and spending. The receivershiprnof the poetic impulse by academicrnminnesingers and a bored critical fraternityrnmeant paralysis of the poetic larynx.rnIt is not necessary to flaunt Shelley’srnoverblown dictum that “poets are thernunacknowledged legislators of thernworld” in order to fear for the humanrnpsyche. At best, poetry has given us anrnexplication de texte of man’s inner naturernand the regurgitations of his soul. Butrnthe “immense” future foreseen byrnMatthew Arnold and its role as an adjuirctrnto religion are no more—perhapsrnbecause religion has increasingly becomernan adjunct to a social dialectic. It hasrngone, and the going has been a symptomrnof the politicization of art and of a “humanist”rnWeltanschauung. Instead wernhave seen the triumph of Macaulay’srnview of poetry as the trauma of unsoundrnminds, and the imposition of the ego onrnthe id.rnPoetry is a dissident yet ordering impulse.rnBut at a time when “dissidence”rnhas grown establishmentarian, poetryrnseems irrelevant, or at best an anguishedrneffluent, Matthew Arnold notwithstanding.rnOr can it be that poetry flourishesrnand is an accepted part of the culturernonly during the vigor and expansion of arnnation or a society—Elizabethan Englandrnand turn-of-the-century America,rnfor example, or a Spain which gave usrnCervantes and then flatted like a voxrnhumana. If this is the answer, then thernprognosis of poetry is indeed gloomy.rnThe surrogate of progress, of growth,rnis tradition—and the Western world’srntraditions have for long been exiledrnto an intellectual Gulag Archipelagornor done away with in political andrnacademic shredders. Harvard, Princeton,rnColumbia—and Oxford and Cambridge,rntoo—once shook with life, asrnthey now scratch for fleas. The poet isrnthe spiritual product of a surging materialism,rnnot of a society which sees itsrneconomic libido as criminal.rnThe poet will, of course, continue tornsing—much as beshawled old womenrnonce prayed in Russian churches—butrnhis voice will echo in a cistern like that ofrnJohn the Baptist. The poet has been rejectedrnby our civilization, because thatrncivilization is no longer at ease with itselfrnand spends its time rubbing camphor onrna rheumy chest, while it contemplates itsrnnavel. A society in twilight seems to seekrndarkness, not the poet’s scolding or hisrnJeremiads. As the poet’s song becomes arnmutter, what emerges from his throat isrnthe lonely and ignored keening of Cassandra.rnPoor poetry. Poor Matthew Arnold.rnRalph de Toledano is the author, mostrnrecently, of The Apocrypha of Limbo,rna book of religious poems.rnEDUCATIONrnStudent Reportsrnon the Perversernand PoliticalrnUniversity of Michiganrnby Aaron SteelmanrnNowhere is the right of free expressionrnmore hotly debated than onrnour nation’s campuses. The recent controversyrnat my school, the University ofrnMichigan, is a prime example. On Januaryrn9, U-M sophomore “Jake Baker”—rna/k/a Abraham Jacob Alkhabaz, a 21-rnyear-old Kuwaiti-American who uses hisrnmother’s maiden name—did what hernoften did: he signed onto the Internet,rnthe international computer network. Actually,rnBaker signed onto,rnan Internet newsgroup for pornographyrnof all types. He had often written pornographicrnfantasies on the newsgroup before,rnand in all of his stories Baker usedrnfictional names for his characters—exceptrnfor the story that he composed thatrnMonday. It seems that Baker, ironically arnlinguistics major, was unable to think ofrna fictional name and so used the name ofrna fellow university student for one of hisrnJUNE 1995/43rnrnrn