Like a good tailor who fashions a suit that fits one man (or even two) resplendently; and an overcoat that might suit two or three—thus for me might my poems be made “to fit”, in one case (or perhaps in two or three). This comparison is somewhat deprecatory (only in a superficial sense); but it is, I think, accurate and reassuring. If my poems do not fit in a general sense, then they fit in a particular sense. This is no small matter. Their truth is, in this fashion, guaranteed.
C.P. Cavafy, Selected Prose Works (U. of Michigan Press, 2010), translated by Peter Jeffreys
This is not just beautifully stated but true in same sense that Cavafy means “truth” in that last sentence. This is a testament, in other words, to the reality of writing poems. We are told in literature classes that poems aim for the “universal” and that this “universality” is what makes great poems great. In other words, the more people the tailor’s suit fits, the better the suit. The poetic question, though—and here my view diverges even from Cavafy’s—is not whether the suit fits but whether one is changed by wearing the suit. That is a different order of truth, and there is no way for poets to guarantee it for anyone, even themselves.