|“Poppy Pleasure” by Minaz Jantz|
I’ve argued before in this space that pleasure is the primary value when it comes to reading, and especially reading poetry. It’s a pleasure, then, to find W. S. Merwin making the same point in response to a request for reading advice by interviewer Ed Rampell in the November 2010 issue of The Progressive:
Yes, one important thing: Read for pleasure. Read junk. Read every kind of book. But read for pleasure. The reason the Puritans wanted to stamp out poetry was because it gave pleasure. It’s about things you love, things that you care about. Sir Philip Sidney, in the generation before Shakespeare, said, “Poetry begins in delight and ends in wisdom.” And it will never end in wisdom if it doesn’t begin in delight and continue in delight. When you read a poem and you think, “God, that is so beautiful, I don’t want to forget that,” and you go on saying it to yourself because you love it, that’s pleasure. That is real pleasure.