Poetry cannot be taught

Poetry cannot be taught,
And writing is not learned.
Classrooms give no wings to thought–
Nor teach you how to yearn.

But watch the world for half an hour–
Be silent in your soul.
Leave, for once, your ivory tower
And listen to the pull

Of falling stars, of concrete, trees,
Of lovers’ rendezvous–
Dance unshod through dewy grass;
Memorize your shoes.

Read a book–or two–or three–
That makes you laugh aloud;
Be unashamed to shout and weep
Amidst the grey-black crowd.

Then listen to a little child
As if he were a king;
Sit with him an hour, and wind
His yoyo on its string.

Then–and only then–you might
Begin to hear the song
That underscores the woolen night;
That makes the day run long.

Then, if you hear the glittering words
And pull them from thick air
The heartbeat of the universe
Might open to your ears.

And if to class you then return
You’ll know the truth untold:
A poet’s born, and learns to yearn
By first becoming old.

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