Advice From a Poet

Posted: May 22, 2014 in Muse



A poet is someone 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 that they feel – but that’s thinking or feeling or knowing: not feeling.
And poetry is about 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 or believe or you know, you are a lot of other people: but the moment that 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 to never stop fighting.

As for expressing nobody-but-yourself n words, that means working just a little harder than anyone 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 that you’ve written
one line of one poem, you’ll be very lucky indeed.

And so my advice to all the 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 until you die.

Does this sound dismal? it isn’t.
It’s the most wonderful life on earth.
or so I feel


-e.e. cummings



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