We have to break the old apart to make room for ourselves

Man finds himself on the earth whether he likes it or not, with nowhere else to go. What then is to become of him? Obviously we can’t stand still or we shall be destroyed. Then if there is no room for us on the outside we shall, in spite of ourselves, have to go in: into the cell, the atom, the poetic line, for our discoveries. We have to break the old apart to make room for ourselves, whatever may be our tragedy and however we may fear it.

We have to acknowledge at once in seeking a meaning involving the complex concerns of the world that the philosophic, the aesthetic, and the mechanical are likely to stem in their development from the same root. One may be much in advance of the other in its discoveries, but in the end a great equalizing process is involved so that the discovery of the advance in the structure of the poetic line is equated by an advance in the conception of physical facts all along the line. Man has no choice in these matters; the only question is, will he recognize the changes that are taking place in time to make the proper use of them?

— William Carlos Williams, “An Essay on Leaves of Grass

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