Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A GRIEVANCE, by JAMES KENNETH STEPHEN

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

A GRIEVANCE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Dear mr. Editor: I wish to say
Last Line: "nor what I ""wished to say"" a while ago."
Alternate Author Name(s): Stephen, J. K.

Dear Mr. Editor: I wish to say --
If you will not be angry at my writing it --
But I've been used, since childhood's happy day,
When I have thought of something, to inditing it;
I seldom think of things; and, by the way,
Although this metre may not be exciting, it
Enables one to be extremely terse,
Which is not what one always is in verse.
I used to know a man, such things befall
The observant wayfarer through Fate's domain
He was a man, take him for all in all,
We shall not look upon his like again;
I know that statement's not original:
What statement is, since Shakespere? or, since Cain,
What murder? I believe 'twas Shakespere said it, or
Perhaps it may have been your Fighting Editor.
Though why an Editor should fight, or why
A Fighter should abase himself to edit,
Are problems far too difficult and high
For me to solve with any sort of credit.
Some greatly more accomplished man than I
Must tackle them: let's say then Shakespere said it;
And, if he did not, Lewis Morris may
(Or even if he did). Some other day,
When I have nothing pressing to impart,
I should not mind dilating on this matter.
I feel its import both in head and heart,
And always did, -- especially the latter.
I could discuss it in the busy mart
Or on the lonely housetop; hold! this chatter
Diverts me from my purpose. To the point:
The time, as Hamlet said, is out of joint,
And perhaps I was born to set it right, --
A fact I greet with perfect equanimity.
I do not put it down to "cursed spite,"
I don't see any cause for cursing in it. I
Have always taken very great delight
In such pursuits since first I read divinity.
Whoever will may write a nation's songs
As long as I'm allowed to right its wrongs.
What's Eton but a nursery of wrong-righters,
A mighty mother of effective men:
A training ground for amateur reciters,
A sharpener of the sword as of the pen;
A factory of orators and fighters,
A forcing-house of genius? Now and then
The world at large shrinks back, abashed and beaten.
Unable to endure the glare of Eton.
I think I said I knew a man: what then?
I don't suppose such knowledge is forbid.
We nearly all do, more or less, know men, --
Or think we do; nor will a man get rid
Of that delusion, while he wields a pen.
But who this man was, what, if aught, he did,
Nor why I mentioned him, I do not know;
Nor what I "wished to say" a while ago.

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