The Poets and the Saints

From Walker Percy's Signposts in a Strange Land.

The Poets and the Saints: “It is such persons as these that shape a region, though first the region must have, by the grace of God, sufficient energy and unconscious purpose to create the poets and saints. They, as they come into being, offer a criticism of life. They create in art, and in life itself, the image of their world, of their time and their region, seen under the aspect of eternity. They substantiate, and they make substantial, the soul of their people. Looking at them and their works, their fellows see where they are trying to go, wherein they have succeeded and wherein they have failed. The poets and saints offer us a criticism of life, not just of life in the abstract but of our life now. The poets see our world; the saints—usually—live in it, in all its richness, complexity, and ambiguity, against a simplicity that lies at the heart both of the world and of themselves” (James McBride Dabbs, quoted in Walker Percy, “Life in the South,” in Signposts in a Strange Land, edited with an introduction by Patrick Samway, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1991, 34-35)



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