“The creator, the artist, the extraordinary man, is merely the ordinary man intensified: a person whose life is sometimes lifted to a high pitch of feeling and who has the gift of making others share his excitement. The ordinary man lives by the creative spirit. He thinks in images and dreams in fantasy; he lives by poetry. Yet he seems to distrust it. He clings to the notion that a poet is a queer and incompetent creature, a daydreaming ne’er-do-well, an eccentric trying to escape the business of the everyday world, a soft and coddled soul.
Almost the opposite is true. History is the record of men who were not only poets but workers, men of action, discoverers, dreamers and doers. Sir Walter Raleigh’s exploration of Guiana and other expeditions in the New World brought him fame and envy. Sir Philip Sidney was a soldier whose gallantry on the field of battle is a deathless story. Geoffrey Chaucer, “father of English poetry,” was a diplomat and secret agent on the king’s business in Europe. John Milton was Cromwell’s fighting foreign secretary.
Nor have poets failed in labor and industry. Ben Jonson was a bricklayer. Robert Herrick was a jeweler. Robert Burns was a plowboy. William Blake designed, printed, and sold his own books. William Morris manufactured furniture. Long before he became known as the greatest American poet of his time, Robert Frost worked as a farmer, a bobbin boy in a Massachusetts mill, a shoemaker, and a teacher in country schools.” -Louis Untermeyer
The Kitchen Chimney
Builder, in building the little house,
In every way you may please yourself;
But please please me in the kitchen chimney:
Don’t build me a chimney upon a shelf.
However far you must go for bricks,
Whatever they cost a-piece or a pound,
But me enough for a full-length chimney,
And build the chimney clear from the ground.
It’s not that I’m greatly afraid of fire,
But I never heard of a house that throve
(And I know of one that didn’t thrive)
Where the chimney started above the stove.
And I dread the ominous stain of tar
That there always is on the papered walls,
And the smell of fire drowned in rain
That there always is when the chimney’s false.
A shelf’s for a clock or vase or picture,
But I don’t see why it should have to bear
A chimney that only would serve to remind me
Of castles I used to build in air.