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With Tenure Analysis

Author: poem of David Lehman Type: poem Views: 3

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If Ezra Pound were alive today

            (and he is)

he'd be teaching

at a small college in the Pacific Northwest

and attending the annual convention

of writing instructors in St. Louis

and railing against tenure,

saying tenure

is a ladder whose rungs slip out

from under the scholar as he climbs

upwards to empty heaven

by the angels abandoned

for tenure killeth the spirit

(with tenure no man becomes master)

Texts are unwritten with tenure,

under the microscope, sous rature

it turneth the scholar into a drone

decayeth the pipe in his jacket's breast pocket.

Hamlet was not written with tenure,

nor were written Schubert's lieder

nor Manet's Olympia painted with tenure.

No man of genius rises by tenure

Nor woman (I see you smile).

Picasso came not by tenure

nor Charlie Parker;

Came not by tenure Wallace Stevens

Not by tenure Marcel Proust

Nor Turner by tenure

With tenure hath only the mediocre

a sinecure unto death. Unto death, I say!


Nature is constipated the sap doesn't flow

With tenure the classroom is empty

            et in academia ego

the ketchup is stuck inside the bottle

the letter goes unanswered the bell doesn't ring.


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