Длинная, но смачнейшая цитата из Фасселловского PMPF. В начале девятой, чисто технической главы "Some Critical Implications of Stanzaic Forms" товарища офицера пробивает на поговорить.
It should neither surprise nor distress us that most poetry in English ranges from the mediocre to the very bad and that most poets are technically incompetent. So are most waiters, physicians, carpenters, lawyers, gardeners, and teachers1. The genuinely successful poems to which we return again and again constitute a tiny selection from the vast and almost measureless rubbish heap of the centuries. Anyone with access to a good library who has read assiduously in the now entirely unrecalled poetic effusions of the last three centuries — the sort of poems that no anthologist, no matter how silly, would think of collecting — is in a position to estimate the importance of formal technique in redeeming a poem from oblivion2. A mastery of technique is rare enough in any art. But in poetry, which demands not only a superb taste in the ever-shifting symbolic system of the connotations of language and an instinct for the æsthetic significance of abstract forms and patterns, but also a deep and abiding understanding of the rhythmic psychology and even physiology of readers in general, technical mastery is not so common a gift that it appears inevitably in every generation.
It is instructive to read right through any anthology looking for some good poems — not good images, or lines, or parts, but whole poems. Most poems will exhibit little that we can admire as real formal excellence, which is to say that in few poems will both the meter and the form act as organic elements of accurate meaning. Nor should we feel pangs of shame or guilt at entertaining sharp expectations of adequacy3. It is never to be forgotten that it is the business of poets to make poems, just as it is the business of readers and critics to appraise them. A young friend of Samuel Johnson's once developed feelings of shame over critisizing a tragedy when he reflected that after all he could not write a better one4. Johnson responded with characteristic clarity and courage: “Why no, Sir, this is not just reasoning. You may abuse a tragedy, though you cannot write one. You may scold a carpenter who has made you a bad table, though you cannot make a table. It is not your trade to make tables.”
We will thus not expect to find formal competence, let alone formal excellence, everywhere we turn. We will not even expect to find it in all the poems of a highly regarded poet: certain of Shakespeare's sonnets are as bad as certain of Wordsworth's failed poems; Keats does not compose brilliantly in every poem, and when Yeats is bad he is embarrassingly bad.
1 — И лично к тебе и твоей профессии это тоже относится, %username%.
3 — Perfectionists of the world, unite! И вообще, эта фраза мне очень нравится. Sharp expectations of adequacy my sorry ass.
4 — "Сперва добейся!"