To Poets Unpublished

Cell2Soul—first the online journal, later the blog—was originally conceived by the editors in part to be a venue where struggling writers, artists and photographers could see their creative compositions appear in electronic print.  For decades, perhaps centuries, much artistic talent never saw the light of publishing day; mostly because the industry scrutinized what went into print—and was highly particular in its selections.

The advent of the World Wide Web markedly altered the publishing landscape.  Now independent authors and artists can post their creative work regularly for all to savor.

Yet what of those past creative artists who never achieved the recognition they deserved in their lifetimes?  Emily Dickinson published fewer than a dozen poems before her death; Keats succumbed to tuberculosis in his mid twenties, before he was acknowledged as a master poet.  He died expecting that his name would be writ in water, as witnessed by the self-authored epitaph on his tombstone.

Here is my humble tribute to those myriad unknown writers, poets and artists down through the decades.

To Poets Unpublished

I pour a glass to poets past
Who struggled as they wrought,
And wrestled to compose each line
From wisps of conscious thought.

Those ideas forged with wit
Or written words to woo—
Phrases by the soul-heart knit
Into the rhymed milieu.

Only such impressions last,
Only verse prevails,
Only words will fix them fast
Against what time assails.

But what of you, disbursed,
Who failed what you essayed;
Who counted out your metered verse
To lose the hand you played?

Like Housman’s athlete dying young,
You slipped betimes away
And never had the trophy won
Before that close of day.

So let us gather, poets all,
Of mortal and immortal line—
And raise this toast, each one to all—
With water writ, or wine.

2010©Brian T. Maurer


5 comments on “To Poets Unpublished

  1. ~ t says:

    Keats did not invent his own epitaph, but remembered words from the play Philaster, or Love Lies-Ableeding, written by Beaumont and Fletcher in 1611. “All your better deeds / Shall be in water writ,” one of the characters says. Keats told his friend Joseph Severn that he wanted on his grave just the line, “Here lies one whose name was writ in water.” Elton John was also influenced by “Philaster” in his song, “Funeral for a Friend”.

    • Brian says:

      Thanks for tracking down the source of the quote. I had not encountered this line from Beaumont and Fletcher’s play before.

  2. Kawika says:

    Fine poem and sentiments. Yes. That is what we are doing — giving voice to the unsung — and some quite remarkable as well. Poems, essays, photography. It’s a form of community. D

  3. Allan M. Bedashi says:

    My modest tribute to Keats.

    A Verse for Keats

    Sweet, sweet poet, and you of gentle soul,
    the ethereal beauty of your lines,
    has ripened through the corridors of time,
    and the majesty of your poetry still unfolds.
    And even though your life was brief,
    and your dearest kin was taken from your side,
    your poetry you still wrote with pride,
    and with silent tears you bore your grief,
    When at twenty and five your feeble life did end,
    and your soul was taken from this earthly throng,
    the nightingale did weep in melancholy song.
    And on St. Agnes Eve, Keats, my dearest friend,
    the epitaph for which you asked, I read.
    Your name was “writ in water”, in part it said.

    Allan M. Bedashi

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