The poet Samuel Hazo, at his installation as the first state poet of Pennsylvania in 1993, declared that “we should learn to listen to our poets here and now — and not wait for history to confer on them their already earned validity.” Poets like Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, Lorca, Yeats, Whitman, and Frost, he continued, would be remembered long after their contemporaries – the military leaders, political officials, industrialists, and celebrities – have been forgotten. “One reason for the unforgettability of poets is that they somehow speak for more than themselves,” Hazo continued. “Day by day we are so used to hearing voices that speak for individual constituencies or institutions that we tend to be deaf to those voices that speak from and to our common humanity.”

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