The issue here is, as you note, what one means by "symbolic." Hughes seems to think it is the same as "symbolist" in the notion of being a gateway to a spiritual world outside physical reality. That would seem to cut out a great deal of poetry--like imagism, or WCW or Levertov or any poet who saw or sees poems as ways to engage with the material world directly.

Otherwise, as you say, it is just a tautology.

On Sun, Feb 5, 2017 at 1:07 PM, Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
"Because poetry is fundamentally symbolic in its form, it possesses the
capacity to suggest the incommensurable and unknowable of the transcendence
and thereby reawaken the spiritual experiences that gave rise to the symbols
and stories of poetry in the first place."

This is an odd proposition. Classified ads are fundamentally symbolic. Porn
videos on YouTube  are fundamentally symbolic. Coffee-shop chatter is
fundamentally symbolic. Nothing in particular follows from the tautology
that poetry is symbolic.

The portentousness of the mere word, "symbol," is itself a bit odd.

And what is the difference between "poetry is symbolic" and "poetry is
fundamentally symbolic in its form"?