Envy of Other People’s Poems

Talking with another poet about the discouraging series of rejections, the endless worry that one’s work is really good–how can one know? I remembered this wonderful little poem by Robert Hass, from Time and Materials.

Envy of Other People’s Poems

In one version of the legend the sirens couldn’t sing.
It was only a sailor’s story that they could.
So Odysseus, lashed to the mast, was harrowed
By a music that he didn’t hear–plungings of sea,
Wind-shear, the off-shore hunger of the birds–
And the mute women gathering kelp for garden mulch,
Seeing him strain against the cordage, seeing
The awful longing in his eyes, are changed forever
On their rocky waste of island by their imagination
Of his imagination of the song they didn’t sing.

Robert Hass

I hope this works as your poetry vitamin pill, Tung. Of course, for me, it just makes me jealous!

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