Poem of the Day: “Cacoethes Scribendi” by Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

I can’t believe it’s already the last day of poetry month! (And coincidentally the middle of my finals.) This year is going by incredibly quickly.

Anyway I have a couple of things to share with you today. First, this quote that my mom posted on Facebook this morning which I think is beautiful and important:

When power leads men towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truth which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment. – JFK at Amherst College shortly after Robert Frost’s death. 1963

And now the poem for today. I searched for poems about poetry, sort of to keep in pattern with last year’s closing poem and thanks to the Poetry Foundation’s excellent search function I was able to find this gem from Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. (I can’t remember if he’s more famous or if his son is…).

If all the trees in all the woods were men;
And each and every blade of grass a pen;
If every leaf on every shrub and tree
Turned to a sheet of foolscap; every sea
Were changed to ink, and all earth’s living tribes
Had nothing else to do but act as scribes,
And for ten thousand ages, day and night,
The human race should write, and write, and write,
Till all the pens and paper were used up,
And the huge inkstand was an empty cup,
Still would the scribblers clustered round its brink
Call for more pens, more paper, and more ink.
 (Disclaimer: I’m basing my poem choices on those I understand to be in the public domain. If I’ve made a mistake – which is very possible – and you own the copyright to a poem I have posted please e-mail me at igetabitobsessive@gmail.com and I will take the post down immediately.)

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