Poeta Fit, Non Nascitur
"How shall I be a poet?
How shall I write in rhyme?
You told me once 'the very wish
Partook of the sublime.'
The tell me how! Don't put me off
With your 'another time'!"
The old man smiled to see him,
To hear his sudden sally;
He liked the lad to speak his mind
And thought "There's no hum-drum in him,
Nor any shilly-shally."
"And would you be a poet
Before you've been to school?
Ah, well! I hardly thought you
So absolute a fool.
First learn to be spasmodic --
A very simple rule.
"For first you write a sentence,
And then you chop it small;
Then mix the bits, and sort them out
Just as they chance to fall:
The order of the phrases makes
No difference at all.
'Then, if you'd be impressive,
Remember what I say,
That abstract qualities begin
With capitals alway:
The True, the Good, the Beautiful --
Those are the things that pay!
"Next, when we are describing
A shape, or sound, or tint;
Don't state the matter plainly,
But put it in a hint;
And learn to look at all things
With a sort of mental squint."
"For instance, if I wished, Sir,
Of mutton-pies to tell,
Should I say 'dreams of fleecy flocks
Pent in a wheaten cell'?"
"Why, yes," the old man said: "that phrase
Would answer very well.
"Then fourthly, there are epithets
That suit with any word --
As well as Harvey's Reading Sauce
With fish, or flesh, or bird --
Of these, 'wild,' 'lonely,' 'weary,' 'strange,'
Are much to be preferred."
"And will it do, O will it do
To take them in a lump --
As 'the wild man went his weary way
To a strange and lonely pump'?"
"Nay, nay! You must not hastily
To such conclusions jump.
"Such epithets, like pepper,
Give zest to what you write;
And, if you strew them sparely,
They whet the appetite:
But if you lay them on too thick,
You spoil the matter quite!
"Last, as to the arrangement:
Your reader, you should show him,
Must take what information he
Can get, and look for no im
mature disclosure of the drift
And purpose of your poem.
"Therefore to test his patience --
How much he can endure --
Mention no places, names, or dates,
And evermore be sure
Throughout the poem to be found
"First fix upon the limit
To which it shall extend:
Then fill it up with 'Padding'
(Beg some of any friend)
Your great SENSATION-STANZA
You place towards the end."
"And what is a Sensation,
Grandfather, tell me, pray?
I think I never heard the word
So used before to-day:
Be kind enough to mention one
And the old man, looking sadly
Across the garden-lawn,
Where here and there a dew-drop
Yet glittered in the dawn,
Said "Go to the Adelphi,
And see the 'Colleen Bawn.'
"The word is due to Boucicault --
The theory is his,
Where Life becomes a Spasm,
And History a Whiz:
If that is not Sensation,
I don't know what it is,
"Now try your hand, ere Fancy
Have lost its present glow --"
"And then," his grandson added,
"We'll publish it, you know:
Green cloth -- gold-lettered at the back --
Then proudly smiled that old man
To see the eager lad
Rush madly for his pen and ink
And for his blotting-pad --
But, when he thought of publishing,
His face grew stern and sad.
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (Poeta Fit, Non Nascitur by Lewis Carroll )
Did you read them?
- The Exquisite Thing, Mark R. Elias
- Leaf to Fall, Tirupathi Chandrupatla
- Strange Paradox, Sandra Feldman
- Celebrate Life, david kush
- Speechless, Michael McParland
- The Road That Leads To There, Is It Poetry
- The girl of great beauty was not to be f.., Dr.V.K. Kanniappan
- Moon's Rebellion, Kewayne Wadley
- African Funeral, onzia dan
- Scavenger, Morakinyo Temiloluwa Bolarinwa
Poem of the Day
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
- Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
- Dreams, Langston Hughes
- If, Rudyard Kipling
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
- Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
- Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)
- Heather Burns