Clive James

Too Many Poets

Too many poets pack a line with thought But melody refuses to take wing. It’s not that meaning has been dearly bought: It has been stifled, by a hankering For portent, as if music meant too much. Sidney called this a want of inward touch.

True poets should walk singing as they weep, As Arnaut Daniel once epitomised; But nothing written will be worth its keep Composed by one who has not realised This to be true, and tested his own song On others, seeing if they listen long

Or turn away.

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