"For poetry makes nothing happen...."
For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives
In the valley of its making where executives
Would never want to tamper, flows on south
From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs,
Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives,
A way of happening, a mouth.
W.H. Auden, "In Memory of W.B. Yeats"
Listening to NPR talking about the famous LBJ "Daisy Ad," I realized the last line LBJ speaks is a familiar one:
All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.
And as a thought experiment, try to imagine any American Presidential candidate making an even remotely similar statement today.
Sometimes poetry does make something happen; whether it meant to do so, or not.