/ Poetry

The Anxiety of Influence

I) On the importance of being haunted

Do not go fighting spirits of the dead:
Young folk should honour those who’ve gone before.
Learn, learn with all your skill from what you’ve read.

Some fools, believing they can boldly tread
New paths and find a different lore
Will end up fighting spirits of the dead;

Others will immerse themselves instead
In rule-books and forget the basic law:
"Learn, learn with all your skill from those you’ve read."

Many will sigh and shake their worried heads,
Defeated, saying "I can write no more:
There’s no point fighting spirits of the dead".

A few are meek, bowing with holy dread
Before the mighty craftsmanship of yore:
They learn with all their skill from what they’ve read.

And you, young man, when all is done and said,
Have fought enough to make your writing sore.
Do not go fighting spirits of the dead.
Learn, learn with all your skill from those you’ve read.


II) Dead voices

Back off, back off, dead voices from the past.
I have no metaphors to call my own.
Your bones are dry. You cage my spirit fast.

If you should stir, you are from first to last
No more than quiet lettering on stone.
Back off, back off, dead voices from the past.

Your world is gone; it’s given up the ghost,
And in your grave cold matter lingers on.
Your bones are dry. You cage my spirit fast

Inside your charnel-house, a jealous host
Who will not let me wander off alone.
Back off, back off, dead voices from the past.

I served you loyally, withstood your test,
And now you hold me hostage here, your clone.
Your bones are dry. You cage my spirit fast.

I’ve lingered long enough, a grudging guest.
Your power is spent now and your haunting done.
Back off, back off, dead voices from the past!
Your bones are dry. You cage my spirit fast.

The Anxiety of Influence
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