Two people deeply in love can look at each other and not have much to say except “I love you.” It gets kind of boring after awhile—after the first ten or twenty years. I don’t expect that from heads of state; I don’t expect them to look at each other after reading a lot of poetry and say “I love you,” but it reminds us that we have inner lives.
When we read poems from the past we realize that human beings have always been the way we are.
Lily of the Valley
Poetry helps us imagine what it’s like to be human. I wish more politicians and heads of state would begin to imagine what it’s like to be human. They’ve forgotten, and it leads to bad things. If you can’t empathize, it’s hard to be decent; it’s hard to know what the other guy’s feeling. They talk from such a distance that they don’t see differences; they don’t see the little things that make up a life. They see numbers; they see generalities. They deal in sound bytes and vacuous speeches; when you read them again, they don’t mean anything.