The following poem is a little-known poem that was written by a little-known poet. However, I think that it says something important about art (in the broad sense of any creative activity, including poetry). I hope that I do not sound too high-falutin', but I am not interested in art that cannot tell us something about what it means to be a human being, and, perhaps, how to get through an ordinary day in a sensitive, dignified manner. (In other words, no dead sheep suspended in formaldehyde-filled glass tanks for me, thank you.) But enough. The poem says it much better than I can.
The Knight in the Wood
The thing itself was rough and crudely done,
Cut in coarse stone, spitefully placed aside
As merest lumber, where the light was worst
On a back staircase. Overlooked it lay
In a great Roman palace crammed with art.
It had no number in the list of gems,
Weeded away long since, pushed out and banished,
Before insipid Guidos over-sweet,
And Dolce's rose sensationalities,
And curly chirping angels spruce as birds.
And yet the motive of this thing ill-hewn
And hardly seen did touch me. O, indeed,
The skill-less hand that carved it had belonged
To a most yearning and bewildered heart,
There was such desolation in its work;
And through its utter failure the thing spoke
With more of human message, heart to heart,
Than all these faultless, smirking, skin-deep saints;
In artificial troubles picturesque,
And martyred sweetly, not one curl awry --
Listen; a clumsy knight who rode alone
Upon a stumbling jade in a great wood
Belated. The poor beast with head low-bowed
Snuffing the treacherous ground. The rider leant
Forward to sound the marish with his lance.
You saw the place was deadly; that doomed pair,
The wretched rider and the hide-bound steed
Feared to advance, feared to return -- That's all!
John Leicester Warren, Rehearsals: A Book of Verses (1870). (A note on line 25: a "marish" is a marsh. According to the OED, the word is "now poetic, archaic, and regional.") An aside: the "Listen" at the beginning of line 21 is, I think, a very fine (and affecting) touch.