Voltaire recognised: De toutes les nation polies, / La notre est la moins poetique (Among all the civilised nations, ours is the least poetic.) He was speaking of the epic. But the English claim that the French poetry is generally less poetic than is theirs. According to Caudwell: "Each new generation - demands poems which more peculiarly and specially express its own problems and aspirations." It would seem to follow that since England has, 1500AD or so on, been in advance of France, its poetry is more developed. Well it's not put that crudely. But that is the main line of reasoning. Since I do not belong to that civilisation, I need not either take sides or even spend much time on the question. Poetry, more so than the novel, is primarily addressed to oneself: Nahin bahar ko fursat na ho bahar to hai, / Tarawat-e-chaman o khubiy- e-hawa kahye.-Ghalib Louis Bouilhet, a not particularly well-known poet of the nineteenth century, complains: Tu n'a jamais ete, dans tes jours les plus rares, / Qu'un banal instrument sous mon archet vainqueur, Et, comme un air qui sonne au boit creux des guitars, / J'ai fait chanter mon reve au vide de ton coeur. (You were never, even on your best days, more than an ordinary instrument coming to life under my conquering plectrum, And like an air resounding in the wooden hollowness of guitars, I have played my dreams in the emptiness of your heart.) Before that, in the first stanza of the poem, the poet says: Pourtant avoir l'amour,tu n'a que le pardon (You could have had love, you have only a pardon.) This can be addressed only to oneself. These two persons have different concepts of love, or each took the other to be other than what he/she was. But to pronounce one's love as banal or to declare the beloved as not worthy of one's love is a wasteful act, un acte gratuit. And, since love cannot be un acte gratuit, the poet is either rejecting the woman he has loved or, more likely, rejecting himself. Of course, self-address is not the same as soliloquy of the drama, which is entirely addressed to others and aims to hide one's defeat instead of revealing it. Ghalib's couplet, quoted above, refers to a creative act. The spring season has ended. None of those fresh buds on the still-green twigs, no more grafted rose, above all, the morning breeze does not any more come laden with the fragrance of flowers. But the poet contemplates the greenery of the grass and feels the coolness of the wind and recreates the spring for himself by an act of will. But then is Ghalib's act of will not as subjective in nature as the "rejection" of love by Bouilhet? Professor Askari writes somewhere that procreation is so awesome an act of responsibility that no one would have dared go near it had it not been reduced to an act of plain amusement. Well, one cannot judge. But love entices the human into accepting a responsibility whose dimensions he is unable to grasp. So why regret something one cannot even fully comprehend? If it is un acte gratuit, so be it. The writer is a former ambassador