Robinson Jeffers Against Publicity

Let Them Alone

If God has been good enough to give you a poet
Then listen to him. But for God’s sake let him alone until he is dead; no prizes, no ceremony,
They kill the man. A poet is one who listens
To nature and his own heart; and if the noise of the world grows up around him, and if he is tough enough,
He can shake off his enemies but not his friends.
That is what withered Wordsworth and muffled Tennyson, and would have killed Keats; that is what makes
Hemingway play the fool and Faulkner forget his art.

by Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962)

Metapoetry

Metapoetry, simply put, is poetry written about poetry.

A metapoem can be a full-fledged treatise (Horace’s “Ars Poetica”) on composition. Or it can be a passing comment on something like the relationship of the poet to the public, as in the poem above.

Since any one view of poetry is subjective, the poet must write convincingly of the stand he or she is taking.

In this poem, Robinson Jeffers makes a plea that the poet be spared of the contaminants that come with notoriety.

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