“There is a phrase in Psalm 77: “I remember my music in the night.” if I may offer an unauthorized and subjective paraphrase, I would write it this way: “In the darkest place, my music recalls itself to me.” Gradually the psalmist recollects what his life is for, long after entreaty and petition apparently have fallen away in a comfortless night…Nearly three thousand years later, in the 1930’s in Stalin’s Soviet Union, in circumstances comparable in hardship to the biblical anguish recorded that night in ancient Israel, the Russian poet Mandelstam put it this way: “poetry is an autonomous force in the universe.””
Gjertrud Schnackenberg, in an interview with John Galassi, excerpted in Christian Anton Gerard’s essay Making’s Progress; Or, A Defense Of Poetry.