The Future of Poetry is in its Past

David is Professor Emeritus at King’s College London, where he taught for more than thirty years; before that, he taught at the University of Birmingham. A graduate of Oxford and London Universities, he is this Michaelmas Term joint convenor of the Classical Reception Seminar at Oxford.

When contemplating the future it is no bad thing to think about the past. This is particularly true when it comes to imaginative literature. This TEDx talk will look briefly at two poems that express caution about whether we can know the future at all. One is from antiquity, by the Roman poet Horace; the other by the twentieth-century Greek poet Cavafy, who spent much time thinking about antiquity. How much can we know about the future? Each of these short poems provides its own answer.