Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Poetic Justice

For the conclusion of John Van Doren's illuminating lecture, "Poetic Justice," as a part of the Law and Literature Series at the Loyola University of Chicago School of Law (April 5, 1995), Van Doren (then President of the Poetry Center of Chicago) remarked:

"I recall hearing that, years ago, the meetings of the English Department at a great university were always held at three o'clock on Friday afternoons. The younger, idealistic faculty members once asked the chairman why he scheduled them at such an hour, when everybody wanted to leave, when there was time only for administrative matters and none left to discuss literature. Should we not be discussing literature, he was asked? Oh, he said, if we did anything like that, we'd never get home in time for dinner.

"I do not know how it will be for you students in days to come, but I should like to think that, at least now and then, when you arrive home late to find that your meat has grown cold and your spouse asks you where on earth you have been, you will be able to present a straight face and say that you could not get away sooner, you were studying justice--that is, you were reading poetry. I wish you good luck."