what a silly thing we do

A long time back, maybe twenty-five years ago, a reviewer (Hudson Review, I think) ridiculed William Carlos Williams for saying one reason a poet wrote was to become a better person. I was fresh out of graduate school, maybe still there, filled with the New Criticism, and I easily sided with the reviewer. But now I see Williams was right. I don’t think Williams was advocating writing as therapy, nor the naïve idea that after writing a poem one is any less depraved. I believe Williams discovered that a lifetime of writing was a slow, accumulative way of accepting one’s life as valid. What a silly thing we do. We sweat through poem after poem to realize what dumb animals know by instinct and reveal in their behavior: my life is all I've got. We are well off to know it ourselves, even if our method of learning it is painfully convoluted.

- Richard Hugo, in his essay "Statements of Faith" from The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing.

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