“You cannot work too hard at poetry. People are bad at it not because they have tin ears, but because they simply don’t have the faintest idea how much work goes into it. It’s not as if you’re ordering a pizza or doing something that requires direct communication in a very banal way. But it seems these days the only people who spend time over things are retired people and prisoners. We bolt things, untasted.
It’s so easy to say, ‘That’ll do.’ Everyone’s in a hurry. People are intellectually lazy, morally lazy, ethically lazy…All the time. When people get angry with a traffic warden they don’t stop and think what it would be like to be a traffic warden or how annoying it would be if people could park wherever they liked. People talk lazily about how hypocritical politicians are. But everyone is. On the one hand we hate that petrol is expensive and on the other we go on about global warming. We abrogate the responsibility for thought and moral decisions onto others and then have the luxury of saying it’s not good enough.
At its best poetry engages with the realities of existence. That’s why it’s so grown up. It’s the absolute opposite of this Disney idea that if you dream hard enough you can get anything - that’s so manifestly not true. Good art has a skull showing. We just need to knuckle down and produce it.
I don’t like this idea that mankind is meant to feel wicked for existing. And that’s what religious people often make one feel. They think we should spend our time either apologising to God for being what we are, or praising him for making us what we are. I mean, what kind of God would need to be praised all the time? If we meet a human being like that we rapidly find them an appalling bore. And if we have to apologise to the creator of the universe, too, that’s mad. Atheists also feel the need to apologise to nature: ‘Oh, I’m so sorry that I behave like a man. And that’s so unfair on poor squirrels and mice and things.’ Bollocks, you know. Tree frogs don’t get up in the morning and say, ‘Oh dear, I should have been a better tree frog.’ One has to be reasonable about it. And to recognise that we’ve done many good and remarkable things. We may have created a lot of landfill sites, but we’ve also produced King Lear and Don Giovanni and the Parthenon. Wonderful things, beautiful.”"
— Stephen Fry (via ringtales)