W. Somerset Maugham

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What was W. Somerset Maugham's view of poetry?

W. Somerset Maugham's view of poetry was very elevated. He regarded poetry as the "crown of literature" and "the sublimest activity of the human mind."

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W. Somerset Maugham , a playwright, novelist, and short-story writer, had an elevated view of poetry that is sadly no longer in vogue. He spoke of poetry as "the crown of literature" and "the sublimest activity of the human mind." Not only that, it was "the achievement of beauty and...

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W. Somerset Maugham, a playwright, novelist, and short-story writer, had an elevated view of poetry that is sadly no longer in vogue. He spoke of poetry as "the crown of literature" and "the sublimest activity of the human mind." Not only that, it was "the achievement of beauty and delicacy."

Maugham's most fulsome praise for poetry, however, was his insistence that "the writer of prose can only step aside when the poet passes." High praise indeed! And especially when one considers that Maugham was a voluminous writer of prose with dozens of novels, plays, and short stories to his name.

Maugham may not have been a poet himself, but he clearly understood its value. He regarded it as the summit of literary achievement, the very peak to which all writers should aspire.

As far as poets themselves were concerned, he held them in equally high regard as their artistic creations. In The Moon and Sixpence, one of Maugham's most popular novels, we find poets being lauded, along with saints, as the only people able to water an asphalt pavement "in the confident anticipation that lilies will reward his labour." In other words, poets, like saints, always believe that great beauty can emerge from this world, even from the unlikeliest of places.

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