— Ted Hughes
Context: However rootedly national it may be, poetry is less and less the prisoner of its own language. It is beginning to represent as an ambassador, something far greater than itself. Or perhaps, it is only now being heard for what, among other thngs, it is — a universal language of understanding, coherent behind the many languages in which we can all hope to meet. … We now give more serious weight to the words of a country's poets than to the words of its politicians — though we know the latter may interfere more drastically with our lives. Religions, ideologies, mercantile competition divide us. The essential solidarity of the very diverse poets of the world, besides being mysterious fact is one we can be thankful for, since its terms are exclusively those of love, understanding and patience. It is one of the few spontaneous guarantees of possible unity that mankind can show, and the revival of an appetite for poetry is like a revival of an appetite for all man's saner possibilities, and a revulsion from the materialist cataclysms of recent years and the worse ones which the difference of nations threatens for the years ahead.
The idea of global unity is not new, but the absolute necessity of it has only just arrived, like a sudden radical alteration of the sun, and we shall have to adapt or disappear. If the nations are ever to make a working synthesis of their ferocious contradictions, the plan will be created in spirit before it can be formulated or accepted in political fact. And it is in poetry that we can refresh our hope that such a unity is occupying people's imaginations everywhere, since poetry is the voice of spirit and imagination and all that is potential, as well as of the healing benevolence that used to be the privilege of the gods.
Poetry International Programme note (1967); also in Selected Translations (2006), edited by Daniel Weissbort, p. 10