A Writer’s Life Poem by Ernest Hilbert

A Writer’s Life

A young Napoleon, his hair coursed back, ferine,
Was already, as a lieutenant in the King’s artillery,
Expert in ramrod and shot. Being of lower nobility,
And Corsican into the deal, he considered
A career in the military infeasible, and so set
To work on a novel. He soon found that fictions
Weren’t so agreeable as muzzle loading
And distance sighting, characters
Sometimes more defiant than whole
Nations and empires, some scenes more difficult
To capture than walled cities. A writer’s life being what
It is, then as now, he didn’t stand a chance,
So he went off, half-cocked one might think,
Dreaming of pyramids, Alps in winter,
The spires of Moscow aiming at the blank
Sheet of December sky like so many dried quills.

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