To be a poet is to bring
A furrowed brow, a piece of string,
And pen and ink and paper white Into a lonely room at night,
And, while the wingéd hours do fly,
To write a rhyme a crown will buy.
Whereas, when first ye sat ye down,
Ye dreamed the rhyme would buy a crown.
To be a poet is to owe,
And here and there in stealth to go;
To fly on swift impassioned feet
From wrathful traders in the street;
For odes and lyrics, tho' they be
Exquisite, are not currency.
No butcher will an MS. take
As fair exchange for good rump steak.
To be a poet is to graze
Old Pegagsus for many days
Upon the dismal fields of hash,
And afterwards to flog and lash
The ancient steed, who loudly squeals,
And spurns the paper with his heels,
Till he arrives, foam-splashed and spent,
Where the ode ends that pays the rent.
To be a poet, I'm afraid,
Is but a sorry sort of trade.
The poet never can compete
With grocers who sell things to eat;
And golden dreams, and visions bright,
Will never stay an appetite.
Likewise the yearnings of the soul
Don't equal one small sausage-roll.
Ah! often from my attic high
I've watched banana-men go by.
And thought how vain 'twould be to shove
A truck piled high with odes to Love,
And lyrics sweet, and sonnets too,
About the suburbs, as they do
The yellow fruit we know so well,
Which seems so readily to sell.
He is a wretched fool indeed
Who yearns the intellect to feed.
A poet cannot sink his teeth Into the freshest laurel-wreath.
Oft, when from lodgings I've been sent,
I've thought 'There's little nourishment
In writing verse. At any price,
A poem is but food for mice.'
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Comments about this poem (The Poet by Ernest O'Ferrall )
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
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