With only a few exceptions - Lawrence, Rimbaud - the modern poet has been an empty windbag and a chatterer. No wonder anguished people turn from him in amusement, boredom, or pity. He has nothing to say worth listening to. One asks for bread and is given a plethora of sounds. The major poets are children lost in a painted forest, making as much noise as they can to attract attention; the lesser ones absent-mindedly continue bringing their posies into the swept courtyards of Auschwitz and Belsen; all of them intent on proving to the world how sensitive they are, how perceptive, how erudite and archetype-crammed. The truth is this: instead of remembering they are prophets and the descendants of prophets, the poets have swapped roles with entertainers and culture-peddlers.
- Irving Layton, from the foreword to Balls for a One-Armed Juggler, 1963