“The only artists I have known, who are perfectly delightful, are bad artists. Good artists exist simply in what they make, and consequently are perfectly uninteresting in what they are. A great poet, a really great poet, is the most unpoetical of all creatures. But inferior poets are absolutely fascinating. The worse their rhymes are, the more picturesque they look. The mere fact of having published a book of second-rate sonnets makes a man quite irresistible. He lives the poetry he cannot write. The others write the poetry that they dare not realize.”
— spoken by Lord Henry in The Picture of Dorian Gray
I’ve collaborated with my good friend Basilike Pappa on the poem below. Visit her lovely blog Silent Hour to see more of her work.
Two Poets Cross at the Tuff Bean Cafe
“Let’s try this again,” said he.
“What’s there to gain?” said she.
“I could buy you a coffee,” said he.
“And lead to catastrophe?” said she.
“Look,” said he. “I’m sorry about the other day.”
“Good,” said she. “Then I’ll take a cafe au lait.”
“I like a woman who knows what she wants,” said he.
“I like a man who knows when he’s wrong,” said she.
“Shall we sit and talk it out?” said he.
“You read my thoughts out loud,” said she.
“I still feel your hand across my cheek,” said he.
“As do I the marks of your critique,” said she.
“But I like your style, your rhythm, your voice in verse,” said he.
“Then I suppose I like your choice of words,” said she.
“You know,” said he. “I’d love to rhyme you line for line.”
“That so?” said she. “You couldn’t keep up if you tried.”
by Basilike Pappa & Ryan Dowling
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, 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.