That headline is what Dante said in his stirring invocation to the Muses, at the beginning of the Purgatory, after he and his guide Virgil have gotten free of Hell, the stifling sinkhole of the universe, to stand on the surface of the earth again and look up to the stars.
He was referring to the kind of verse he had to write to describe the realm of evil—crack-throated, strained, bitter. If he were alive now, he might utter those same words as a cry of despair, because poetry itself might as well be dead, for all that popular culture is

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