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.