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ars poetica :: tom disch

by on October 3, 2015

Some people actually manage to make money by it,
But most of us just enjoy it as it enters our lives
With the intermittent periodicity
Of those optional holidays—Arbor Day or Mardi Gras—
We can celebrate or ignore as we choose.
Of course, a devotee can fill his calendar
(As Henry James notoriously did, dining out
Every night of the week in his London years),
But a majority are, as it were, hobbyists,
And once they exit adolescence lose
That special drive that keeps the driven few driven—
Who rarely ask why they feel this peculiar need.
Is it to please? Not on the evidence.
Exceptional competence can lead to celebrity
On a par with a movie star’s, but do you
Honestly believe most aspirants aspire so far?
They do it for love. They do it because
At some point in their green youth
They were pierced, like apples, or bull’s-eyes,
By the everlasting dart. Of art?
Goodness no. Haven’t you been listening?

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