The Disappearing Poet

Image by Holly Ordway
Image by Holly Ordway

The Disappearing Poet

by Dr. Holly Ordway

A pastiche, with apologies, of Richard Wilbur’s delightful poem “The Disappearing Alphabet”


The world’s a prosy place at times,

With tax-forms, bills, due-dates, and fines;

It seems that we’ve become a nation

Whose sad beleaguered imagination


Is stuck on money, sex, and fame

(or shopping, or the football game).

What are we missing? Could it be

We’ve lost our sense of poetry?


Without the P, then poet’s OET:

We’re missing something and we know it.

Let’s look for poets out-of-doors:

On farms, or roaming heathered moors.


Look: there’s Robert Frost, and Wendell Berry

Sometimes moody, sometimes making merry.


It doesn’t seem so bad to lose

The O, which gives us PET, but whose?

Instead of some poor sweatered pup

Let’s have some wildlife – don’t give up:


Here’s Burns’ wee mouse, Blake’s tiger and his lamb,

Keats’ nightingale, Smart’s cat (who’s quite a ham).


Lose the E? We’ve gone to POT

Which we’ll agree is not so hot.

Perhaps we need some sterner stuff

As if to say ‘enough’s enough!’


So Eliot sends us to the dictionary,

And Dante, singing, to the oratory.


If we miss the T, it’s no

Disaster: we still have our POE,

But horror is that poet’s gift:

Our spirits would soon need a lift.


Hopkins sings the praise of dappled things;

Chesterton, the joy that wonder brings.


We need our poets! That’s for sure:

Their role is one we can’t abjure.

Read ‘em! Share ‘em! Sing their praise!

We need good words in every day.


And if it happens that you’re a poet too:

Write, and write – that’s what you’re called to do!



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