What should the wars do with these jigging fools?
The man behind the book may not be man,
His own man or the book’s or yet the time’s,
But still be whole, deciding what he can
In praise of politics or German rimes;
But the intellectual lights a cigarette
And offers it lit to the lady, whose odd smile
Is the merest hyphen—lest he should forget
What he has been resuming all the while.
He talks to overhear, she to withdraw
To some interior feminine fireside
Where the back arches, beauty puts forth a paw
Like a black puma stretching in velvet pride,
Making him think of cats, a stray of which
Some days sets up a howling in his brain,
Pure interference such as this neat bitch
Seems to create from listening disdain.
But talk is all the value, the release,
Talk is the very fillip of an act,
The frame and subject of the masterpiece
Under whose film of age the face is cracked.
His own forehead glows like expensive wood,
But back of it the mind is disengaged,
Self-sealing clock recording bad and good
At constant temperature, intact, unaged.
But strange, his body is an open house
Inviting every passerby to stay;
The city to and fro beneath his brows
Wanders and drinks and chats from night to day.
Think of a private thought, indecent room
Where one might kiss his daughter before bed!
Life is embarrassed; shut the family tomb,
Console your neighbor for his recent dead;
Do something! die in Spain or paint a green
Gouache, go into business (Rimbaud did),
Or start another Little Magazine,
Or move in with a woman, have a kid.
Invulnerable, impossible, immune,
Do what you will, your will will not be done
But dissipate the light of afternoon
Till evening flickers like the midnight sun,
And midnight shouts and dies: I’d rather be
A milkman walking in his sleep at dawn
Bearing fat quarts of cream, and so be free,
Crossing alone and cold from lawn to lawn.
I’d rather be a barber and cut hair
Than walk with you in gilt museum halls,
You and the puma-lady, she so rare
Exhaling her silk soul upon the walls.
Go take yourselves apart, but let me be
The fault you find with everyman. I spit,
I laugh, I fight; and you, l’homme qui rît;
Swallow your stale saliva, and still sit.
Karl Shapiro's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (The Intellectual by Karl Shapiro )
- Our India is the best country of the who.., Mazid S Kazi , INDIA
- Silent Page, Saturday Chikezie Promise
- This is human race, Aftab Alam
- God Bless The Teacher, Enoch Gyamfi
- Hunger, Kyle Schlicher
- Love don't have no name on it!, Shirley Morgan
- There Was A Time, Kyle Schlicher
- No Such Thing As Handicapped, louis rams
- Here I Am, Kyle Schlicher
- Destroy hunger, gajanan mishra
Poem of the Day
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- Alone, Maya Angelou
- Daffodils, William Wordsworth
- Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
- Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
- O Captain! My Captain!, Walt Whitman
- Invictus, William Ernest Henley
- Men, Maya Angelou
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
- Heather Burns
(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)