My desk is cleared of the litter of ages;
Before me glitter the fair white pages;
My fountain pen is clean and filled,
And the noise of the office has long been stilled.
Roget’s Thesaurus is at my hand,
And I’m ready to do some work that’s grand,
Dignified, eminent, great, momentous,
Memorable, worthy of note, portentous,
Beautiful, paramount, vital, prime,
Stirring, eventful, august, sublime.
For this is the way, I have read and heard,
That authors look for the fitting word.
All of the proud ingredients mine
To build, like Marlowe, the mighty line.
But never a line from my new-filled pen
That couldn’t be done by a child of ten.
Oh, how did Shelley and how did Keats
Weave magic words on the fair white sheets
Under conditions that, were they mine,
I couldn’t bear? And I’d just resign.
Yet Milton wrote passable literature
Under conditions I couldn’t endure.
Coleridge and Chatterton did their stuff
Over a road that I’d christen rough.
Wordsworth and—soft!—could it be that they
Waited until they had something to say?