It is in the nature of poetry to be short. If we agree with James Wood that a poem is “the most realized form of intention,” then brevity becomes an important part of the point. Heaney’s claims for poetry, for the government of the tongue (and other poets have made equivalent claims), become in this way also a claim for the poetic aesthetic, for the fact and promise of brevity. In this way, poetry does not become the only way to regard life, but it does become the pithiest and richest way to marry experience, language and meaning. It highlights the point that new experience, the experience of new knowledge, is, by definition, invariably brief. The knowledge stays with us, but the first encounter with — and the apprehension of — such knowledge happens immediately. Immediacy is the point of phenomenology. Immediacy equals intensity. Intensity is one of the purposes of life.