“Perhaps no person can be a poet, or can even enjoy poetry, without a certain unsoundness of mind”
– Thomas B. Macaulay: American essayist and historian 1800-1859
Review by NilavroNill Shoovro
I doubt that most of us would agree with Thomas B. Macaulay. And it is a fact that most of us like to write poems and enjoy poetry a great deal. But certainly most of us would never consider ourselves as people of unsound mind! Neither most of us would agree with Mr. Macaulay that most of the great poets around the world and the time scale are to some extend of unsound mind. On the contrary people do generally consider the poets as highly intellectuals.
Now if we ask each others, why do we write poems or even enjoy poetry so much; I don’t think we would get a single answer. Yes almost everybody would agree that we derive immense satisfaction in writing poems and poetry as a whole gives us solace as well as great pleasure. So we spend much of our scarce times to write or read poems instead of doing any other profitable job. Not everybody is like us, there are plenty of people in this world who consider writing or reading poems is wastage of time. They may agree with Mr. Macaulay to a certain extend. Most of these people would consider us stupid in nature, and to them this stupidity is actually the outcome of mental unsoundness.
But I’m certain Mr. Macaulay didn’t mean unsoundness of mind as stupidity at all. Yes I do agree with him that without a certain degree of unsoundness of mind one cannot develop a true poem. But what is this unsoundness of mind? No, it is certainly not stupidity as we perceive. It is actually a way of thinking or mode of perception through which a poet watches and feels the pulse of his or her time and the surroundings, and which is certainly not common along with the perceptions of general peoples. This uncommonness is a quality which according to Mr. Macaulay is unsoundness of mind.
Without which we couldn’t invest so much time and effort in writing or enjoying poetry which bring us neither money nor worldwide fame. Yet we derive immense satisfaction wasting our time in this way. We could have utilize these times in earning more money or doing some other works which would bring us instant glory or fame. But instead, we cannot help us but go on writing and reading poems. This state of mind and inspiration come out of that unsoundness of mind that Mr. Macaulay had expressed through his comment.
21st JUNE’ 2019