Semicolon has been posting the most popular poems from her poetry survey, and along the way mocking a bit the conviction of various poets that their words would grant immortality to the subjects of their poems. (Listen to the YouTube clip while you're over there; it's amazing.) The irony is, egotistical as they sound, they were quite right: here we all are, still reading them sing the praises of their long-dead loves.
Perhaps it is not just ego, either. For the whole point of writing a poem is to capture a fleeting moment and transform it into something permanent. We are always losing everything, every moment, and we fight to catch it and hold it back. No wonder life doesn't feel real until we have captured it, like the family Chesterton mentioned that felt their existence confirmed when their own suburb warranted mention in the Times. It's not even our life itself that we love--it's the glimpses it gives us of something more.
Which reminds me of my very inconsistent aversion to photography. The ducklings often clamor to have their picture taken and I grudge them, not just because I don't want to go hunt the camera and a fresh set of batteries up, but because I hate the thought of them suspending their involvement in what they are doing to pose. But perhaps they are, in a childish way, trying to do the same thing I do in words: they don't just want to climb the tree, they want to capture the moment of climbing the tree and turn it into something transcendent.
Then again, maybe they just like mugging for the camera. And maybe the poets just really do have inflated ideas of their own importance. And maybe I just blog because I'm in love with the sounds of my own keys tapping. But I think for all of us, whether we succeed at the effort or fail miserably, at the heart what we want is not just attention, but eternity.