Keats, Cummings, Silverstein, Frost: Advice from Some of the Greats

John Keats on Distractions
‘My name with the literary fashionables is vulgar – I am a weaver boy to them – a Tragedy would lift me out of this mess. And mess it is as far as it regards our Pockets – But be not cast down any more than I am. I feel I can bear real ills better than imaginary ones. Whenever I find myself growing vapourish, I rouse myself, wash and put on a clean shirt brush my hair and clothes, tie my shoestrings neatly and in fact adonize as I were going out – then all clean and comfortable I sit down to write. This I find the greatest relief – Besides I am becoming accustom’d to the privations of the pleasures of sense. In the midst of the world I live like a Hermit. I have forgot how to lay plans for enjoyment of any Pleasure. I feel I can bear any thing, any misery, even imp[r]isonment-so long as I have neither wife nor child.’

A Poets Advice by E.E. Cummings

A poet is somebody who feels, and who expresses his feelings through words. This may sound easy. It isn’t.

A lot of people think or believe or know they feel – but that’s thinking or believing or knowing; not feeling. And poetry is feeling – not knowing or believing or thinking.

Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think you believe or you know, you’re a lot of othr people: but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself.

To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

As for expressing nobody-but-yourself in words, that means working just a little harder than anybody who isn’t a poet can possibly imagine. Why? Because nothing is quite as easy as using words like somebody else. We all of us do exactly this nearly all of the time – and whenever we do it, we are not poets.

If, at the end of your first ten or fifteen years of fighting and working and feeling, you find you’ve written one line of one poem, you’ll be very lucky indeed.

And so my advice to all young people who wish to become poets is: do something easy, like learning how to blow up the world – unless you’re not only willing, but glad, to feel and work and fight till you die.

Does that sound dismal? It isn’t.
It’s the most wonderful life on Earth.
Or so I feel.

E.E. Cummings

Melinda Mae by Shel Silverstein

Have you heard of tiny Melinda Mae,
Who ate a monstrous whale?
She thought she could,
She said she would,
So she started in right at the tail.
And everyone said,”You’re much 
too small,

“But that didn’t bother Melinda at all,

She took little bites and she chewed very slow,
 Just like a little girl should…
…and eighty-nine years later she ate
 that whale

Because she said she would!!!
From “Where the Sidewalk Ends”

Must watch clip of Robert Frost!

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