The world has lost a great poet — so it’s often said. And yet isn’t death what finally and most fully reveals a great poet’s gift to this world? And so when the poet dies, wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that the world has gained him, or her, instead?
A Lesser Poet
I will be remembered
as a lesser poet,
if at all — a clumsy ox
who fell from my wobbly
ladder while picking apples
I thought were stars.
Pitied, perhaps, as one
not quite in my right mind,
condemned to spend
my days this way.
See him writing on his prison walls:
he thinks he’s at the Parthenon,
poor fool, or that he’s a holy beggar
wandering the sun-bleached ruins
of an abandoned Asia Minor town.
See him holding court
with no one in the room,
see him in the street
speaking languages unknown,
a child in ragged clothes,
an old man all alone,
see him in his field sowing
seeds on rocky ground.
As a lesser poet he is sadly unaware,
patience yields the richest gems:
he picks up any twig and calls it grand,
talks to spiders and grains of sand,
counts the fingers on each hand
and finds new meaning there.
If only he could see what’s real
and frame it all in thoughtful words:
we might believe him then.
If only he would tell us what
we truly need to know: how to live,
how to be, what to think,
the meaning of our dreams,
then a greater poet he would be.
Songs and Letters, November 11, 2005
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Categories: Songs and Letters