A Poet Speaks from the Visitors' Gallery
MacLeish, Archibald (1892-)

Have Gentlemen perhaps forgotten this?--
We write the histories.

Do Gentlemen who snigger at the poets,
Who speak the word professor with guffaws--
Do Gentlemen expect their fame to flourish
When we, not they, distribute the applause?

Or do they trust their hope of long remembrance
To those they name with such respectful care--
To those who write the tittle in the papers,
To those who tell the tattle on the air?

Do Gentlemen expect the generation
That counts the losers out when tolls the bell
To take some gossip-caster's estimation,
Some junior voice of fame with fish to sell?

Do Gentlement believe time's hard-boiled jury,
Judging the sober truth, will trust again
The words some copperhead who owned a paper
Ordered one Friday from the hired men?

Have Gentlemen forgotten Mr. Linoln?

A poet wrote that story, not a newspaper,
Not the New Yorker of the nameless name
Who spat with hatred like some others later
And left, as they, in his hate his shame.

History's not written in the kind of ink
The richest man of most ambitious mind
Who hates a president enough to print
A daily paper can afford or find.

Gentlemen have power now and know it,
But even the great and most famous kings
Feared and with reason to offend the poets
Who songs are marble
				 and who marble sings.

The New Yorker Book of Poems