Signs of the Times

[Lord Dunsany, as quoted in Great Thoughts, London, England]

If the million are reading and speaking slipshod English while only the thinkers write purely, a gap is widening between ordinary men and those who, on the mountain tops of thought, can see a little more clearly through the mists that lie around man's destiny, and would tell the rest if only the rest could hear. If the poets come to appear pedantic and precious, the poets will be derided; and that they have always been, and know how to bear it; but the people will be cut off from their message, and will not be the better for that. Or else the poets will write in the new jargon; but the trouble, then, is that it is incapable of carrying so much of their thought as was the English of Milton. Those who so champion modernism that they would support the prevalent trend of our language today, merely because it is of today, will surely hold that our day is a great day and has something to tell to others. We can read without difficulty what the Elizabethans had to tell us. Will the people of three or four hundred years hence, if our language continues upon its downward slope, be able to make head or tail of what we thought or cared about?

July 1, 1933

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