Quotation by Joseph Brodsky

If a poet has any obligation toward society, it is to write well. Being in the minority, he has no other choice. Failing this duty, he sinks into oblivion. Society, on the other hand, has no obligation toward the poet. A majority by definition, society thinks of itself as having other options than reading verses, no matter how well written. Its failure to do so results in its sinking to that level of locution at which society falls easy prey to a demagogue or a tyrant. This is society's own equivalent of oblivion.
Joseph Brodsky (b. 1940), Russian–born U.S. poet, critic. (First published 1983). "To Please a Shadow," sect. 2, Less Than One: Selected Essays (1986).
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