The consensus seems to be that poetry is dead. It was great in its time, but its time is past. In its day, poetry was kept alive by a certain sensibility that many people in the middle and upper classes had. These were people who could turn their backs on the chatter of urban life for a time, travel out into the  countryside and contemplate something that seemed grander or more profound or more uplifting – something poetic.

     The people who grew up to be like this were people who were familiar with silence. Houses a hundred years ago must have been relatively quiet places – places conducive to meditating upon the shivering little bird on the bare branch of the tree outside in the cold midwinter evening.

          Added to this was a culture centered on books. Long before it was possible to cheaply reproduce and widely distribute either images or sounds, the printing press had made it possible for a culture to spring up which revolved around the written word.

     Things have changed. People grow up with a constant supply of mass-produced music and video clips and chat and TV images and noise  - a wall of sound keeping almost everything else out. The extent of the exposure creates, in many people, a psychological need to keep the music and the noise going. The place seems empty and time seems to pass in a deathly way without it. When one was no longer able to take pleasure in silence, there ceased to be an audience for poetry and the art form we had known for some 3,000 years died.


The phrase “places conducive to meditating upon” refers to places _____.


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