I'm gonna get real here. Call this section "John Crowe Ransom: the Quick and Dirty Version."
When you read a poem, read it closely and appreciate its beauty. A poem is an aesthetic object, not a how-to manual, a crystal ball, or a porthole into the author's life.
I love form. Give me a poem with your most traditional meter, stanzas, and rhyme, and you'll make my day. Make it about the glories of the Southern gentleman, and you'll make my week. I'm an unrepentant formalist.
Modern life = decay. Unless you're a nihilistic wingnut, this is not a good thing.
I'm not afraid of much, but I am not a friend of change.
A little known fact: I love John Donne, that God-fearing metaphysical poet from the 17th century. His poems just have class, which is sorely lacking in the modern era.
I worshipped at the altar of precision. Critics aren't artists—they're, well, scientists. Reading carefully means reading closely.