Challenge,  On Writing


By Sir Edmund William Gosse…

On this Christmas Eve, I thought I would put a poem here about writing. Read it carefully and you will see he is talking about today, about what Kris and I often talk about.

Over the years I have had the first two lines of the third stanza of this poem on my wall and office door.

And the third line of the fourth stanza describes why so many people rewrite their work to death.

An amazing poem for this evening. Merry Christmas.


Sir Edmund William Gosse

IN these restrained and careful times
Our knowledge petrifies our rhymes;
Ah! for that reckless fire men had
When it was witty to be mad,

When wild conceits were piled in scores,
And lit by flaring metaphors,
When all was crazed and out of tune,
Yet throbbed with music of the moon.

If we could dare to write as ill
As some whose voices haunt us still,
Even we, perchance, might call our own
Their deep enchanting undertone.

We are too diffident and nice,
Too learnéd and too over-wise,
Too much afraid of faults to be
The flutes of bold sincerity.

For, as this sweet life passes by,
We blink and nod with critic eye;
We ’ve no words rude enough to give
Its charm so frank and fugitive.

The green and scarlet of the Park,
The undulating streets at dark,
The brown smoke blown across the blue,
This colored city we walk through;—

The pallid faces full of pain,
The field-smell of the passing wain,
The laughter, longing, perfume, strife,
The daily spectacle of life;—

Ah! how shall this be given to rhyme,
By rhymesters of a knowing time?
Ah! for the age when verse was glad,
Being godlike, to be bad and mad.



  • Maria

    Dean, thank you for sharing! It‘s such an inspiring poem!! I‘ve printed it out for my office. I have an inner conflict about specializing vs. writing in many different genres. I’ve written two self-help books, poetry, stories, and novels (and finished them). So far I’ve published self-help books and had more success with them than I expected. But now I‘m called to my roots in history, and I want to write a historical adventure novel. The advice that I hear everywhere is specialize and build a brand. I‘ve written so much, and now I want to write something completely different. I don‘t know if I should write all I want and publish all I want, or publish in one genre only and build a brand in one direction. What do you think? Happy holidays!

  • Prasenjeet Kumar

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, Dean! Have you watched the film “Rebel in the Rye” which is about J.D. Salinger. The book covers all the issues (especially of critical voice) that writers face. I highly recommend it.