The Sheltered Poet

The sheltered poet sinks back in his chair
And haunted by the drowse of afternoon,
He flirts with tales of love and of despair.
His stomach counterpoints his wistful tune.
A sigh escapes as he essays his air;
"Words, words," he says, "like empty baggage strewn.
     The moldy and the dead were ne'er so mean
     As this, the ghoulish product of my spleen!"

The well is dry, he knows; not much to say.
He scans the room for something to inspire.
Then he recalls the wisdom of a day,
Commits his stillborn goblin to the fire.
There is another path, a better way,
To string and tune this bard's dust-laden lyre.
     That day, a fellow poet and a sage,
     Spoke to him from the height of well-worn age.

"How now, my lad! Why so these jaded lines?
You write as if a prisoner in a cell,
Or a penitent monk, constrained to speak in signs;
Each morbid phrase bays like the hounds of Hell!
Who looks upon horizons never pines.
His open eyes unmake the twilight's spell.
     Go forth at once, my friend, the Muse to win.
     Reach out and take the outer world within!"

George Chadderdon © 1995