Sonnet: They Dub Thee Idler

By Henry Timrod 1828–1867 Henry Timrod
They dub thee idler, smiling sneeringly,
And why? because, forsooth, so many moons,
Here dwelling voiceless by the voiceful sea,
Thou hast not set thy thoughts to paltry tunes
In song or sonnet. Them these golden noons
Oppress not with their beauty; they could prate,
Even while a prophet read the solemn runes
On which is hanging some imperial fate.
How know they, these good gossips, what to thee
The ocean and its wanderers may have brought?
How know they, in their busy vacancy,
With what far aim thy spirit may be fraught?
Or that thou dost not bow thee silently
Before some great unutterable thought?

Source: The Collected Poems of Henry Timrod (1865)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Henry Timrod 1828–1867

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets

Poetic Terms Sonnet

Biography

Since Henry Timrod's output before the Civil War was limited to verse sufficient only for a single volume—published in December 1859—his literary reputation at the time was modest. The political activities surrounding the formation of a new nation and the impact of the war itself aroused Timrod's poetic imagination, however, and he quickly became widely known as the literary spokesman and eventually as the so-called poet . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Sonnet

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.