This book is the fulfillment of the author's long service to poetry in the interests of humanity. Poetry's singular mission is to bind love and truth together—love that desires the beloved's continued life, knotted with the truth of life's contingency—to help make us more present to each other. In the spirit of Blake's vow of “mental fight,” the author contends with challenges to the validity of the poetic imagination, from Adorno's maxim “No poetry after Auschwitz,” to the claims of religious authority upon truth, and the ultimate challenge posed by the fact of death itself. To these challenges he responds with rigorous arguments, drawing on wide resources of learning and his experience as master-poet and teacher. The author's readings of Wordsworth, Hart Crane, Paul Celan, and others focus on poems that interrogate the real or enact the hard bargains that literary representation demands.