Brian Phillips leaves us with an elaborately defined sense of " the anxiety that dominates the culture of poetry in this country" and contrastingly "nothing to say" about "how taste can be restored to poetry." While reading his essay I found myself referring repeatedly to Kant's Critiques, but not once to "The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music," the choral finale of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, to any of my poetry recordings or anthologies, or indeed to the poems included in the issue.
There is a "pre-Modern aesthetic vocabulary," resurrected in modernity (post-eighteenth century), pointing the way to the hidden door but not to be sought in epistemology. John Synge employs this vocabulary when he tells us that a good speech should be as fully flavored as a nut or an apple, and that a poet cannot produce such speeches when he must live and work among a people who have shut their lips on poetry. The further poetry strays from that musical mood that parts the lips and commits the poem to the air and to the ear, " Recking naught else but that her graces give / Life to the moment," the more abstract, sterile, and anxiety-ridden the "problem of poetic taste" becomes.