The poem A minor poet, written by Stephen Vincent Benet, isn’t a minor poem. The title gives an indication of where the poet wanted to go with this milestone in poetry.
About A minor poet
Don’t let the vocabulary of this poem set you off. It is a poem that is written in a different time. In this poem, Benet defines himself as a human inside an immense universe. A small cog in a larger whole. Or, as he writes: a shell. This could be a seashell or just someone who is inside a shell (metaphor here). Is he perhaps covering his soul?
The poem also defines what the writer or poet is not. He is the fruit, but not the apple. Is he perhaps what we nowadays consider to be something like soul searching? Indeed, this is just one of those poems, where the poet takes a stand. He doesn’t claim to know anything and humility “speaks” from these words of Benet.
He thinks of himself as being that, but actually not that great. He has his aspirations, his qualities, but knows that he will never be as great as others. Is this a bad thing? According to the poet, it isn’t. It is something that he has accepted.
At The Ministry of Poetic Affairs, we read a lot of poetry. When it comes to modern poetry, we see a lot of poets who really think they are the “new” Yeats or the “new” Shakespeare. There is nothing wrong with this attitude. It is great to see that so many are inspired by others. However, there is a downside to all of this. The way you act when others like the work you wrote, doesn’t grant any haughty behaviour. Fortunately, those who are –what we call- full of themselves are only a small portion of poets who write poetry on daily basis. They will probably be able to relate to this poem that Benet left us.
A minor poet
I am a shell. From me you shall not hear
The splendid tramplings of insistent drums,
The orbed gold of the viol’s voice that comes,
Heavy with radiance, languorous and clear.
Yet, if you hold me close against the ear,
A dim, far whisper rises clamorously,
The thunderous beat and passion of the sea,
The slow surge of the tides that drown the mere.
Others with subtle hands may pluck the strings,
Making even Love in music audible,
And earth one glory. I am but a shell
That moves, not of itself, and moving sings;
Leaving a fragrance, faint as wine new-shed,
A tremulous murmur from great days long dead.
— Stephen Vincent Benet
Are you that poet, who wrote about the own writing skills? What is your view when it comes to your own work? We are always interested in reading new poems, written by talented writers and poets. Contact us for more information on how we can promote your work.