April 2022 – What is a poet?

Editing a ‘Fryslân Doc’ with Srdjan Fink. While selecting interview fragments of poet Elmar Kuiper, Srdjan runs to his bookshelf and gets Kirkegaard out, as translated to Serbian: ‘Ili-Ili’ (‘Either-Or’):

What is a poet? An unhappy person who conceals profound anguish in his heart but whose lips are so formed that as sighs and cries pass over them they sound like beautiful music. It is with him as with the poor wretches in Phalaris’s bronze bull, who were slowly tortured over a slow fire; their screams could not reach the tyrant’s ears to terrify him; to him they sounded like sweet music. And people crowd around the poet and say to him, “Sing again soon”-in other words, may new sufferings torture your soul, and may your lips continue to be formed as before, because your screams would only alarm us, but the music is charming. And the reviewers step up and say, “That is right; so it must be according to the rules of esthetics.” Now of course a reviewer resembles a poet to a hair, except that he does not have the anguish in his heart, or the music on his lips. Therefore, I would rather be a swineherd out on Amager and be understood by swine than be a poet and be misunderstood by people.