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The Poet Analysis

Author: poem of Delmore Schwartz Type: poem Views: 5

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The riches of the poet are equal to his poetry

His power is his left hand

      It is idle weak and precious

His poverty is his wealth, a wealth which may destroy him

   like Midas Because it is that laziness which is a form of impatience

And this he may be destroyed by the gold of the light

   which never was

On land or sea.

He may be drunken to death, draining the casks of excess

That extreme form of success.

He may suffer Narcissus' destiny

Unable to live except with the image which is infatuation

Love, blind, adoring, overflowing

Unable to respond to anything which does not bring love

   quickly or immediately.

...The poet must be innocent and ignorant

But he cannot be innocent since stupidity is not his strong


Therefore Cocteau said, "What would I not give

To have the poems of my youth withdrawn from


I would give to Satan my immortal soul."

This metaphor is wrong, for it is his immortal soul which

   he wished to redeem,

Lifting it and sifting it, free and white, from the actuality of

      youth's banality, vulgarity,

      pomp and affectation of his early

      works of poetry.

So too in the same way a Famous American Poet

When fame at last had come to him sought out the fifty copies

of his first book of poems which had been privately printed

by himself at his own expense.

He succeeded in securing 48 of the 50 copies, burned them

And learned then how the last copies were extant,

As the law of the land required, stashed away in the national capital,

at the Library of Congress.

Therefore he went to Washington, therefore he took out the last two


Placed them in his pocket, planned to depart

Only to be halted and apprehended. Since he was the author,

Since they were his books and his property he was reproached

But forgiven. But the two copies were taken away from him

Thus setting a national precedent.

For neither amnesty nor forgiveness is bestowed upon poets, poetry and poems,

For William James, the lovable genius of Harvard

spoke the terrifying truth: "Your friends may forget, God

      may forgive you, But the brain cells record

      your acts for the rest of eternity."

What a terrifying thing to say!

This is the endless doom, without remedy, of poetry.

This is also the joy everlasting of poetry.


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