The Poet of the Future

By Tacitus Hussey

Oh, the poet of the future. Will he come to us as comes

The beauty of the bugle's voice above the roar of drums—

The beauty of the bugle's voice above the roar and din

Of battle drums that pulse the time the victor marches in?

James Whitcomb Riley.


"Oh, the poet of the future!" Can anybody guess

Whether he'll sound his bugle, or she'll wear them on her dress;

An' will they kinder get their themes from nature, second hand,

An' dish 'em up in language that plain folks can't understand?

There's a sight of this 'ere po'try stuff, each year, that goes to waste,

Jest a-waitin' fer a poet who has the time and taste

To tackle it just as it is, an' weave it into rhyme,

With warp and woof of hope and love, in life's swift loom of time.

An' mebbe the future poet, if he understands the thing,

Won't start the summer katydids to singin' in the spring,

Jest like the croakin' frog; but let the critter wait at most,

To announce to timid farmers that "it's jest six weeks till frost."

The katydid and goldenrod are partners in this way:

They sing and bloom where'er there's room, along life's sunny way;

So I warn you, future poet, jest let 'em bloom an' lilt

Together—don't divorce 'em. That's jest the way they're built.

In order to be perfect, the future poet should

Know every sound of nature, of river, lake an' wood,

Should know each whispered note and every answerin' call—

He should never set cock-pheasants to drummin' in the fall.

"Under the golden maples!" Not havin' voice to sing

They flap their love out on a log quite early in the spring;

For burnin' love will allus find expression in some way—

That's the style that they've adopted—don't change their natures, pray.

I cannot guess just what the future poet's themes may be;

Reckon they'll be pretty lofty, fer, as anyone can see,

The world of poetry's lookin' up an' poets climbin' higher;

With divine afflatus boostin' them, of course they must aspire.

The poets of the good old times were cruder with the pen;

Their idees weren't the same as ours—these good old-fashioned men—

Bet old Homer never writ, even in his palmiest day,

Such a soul-upliftin' poem as "Hosses Chawin' Hay."

"Hosses" don't know any better out in the Hawkeye State—

Down to Boston now, I reckon, they jest simply masticate.

The poet of the future'll blow a bugle, like as not—

Most all us modern poets had to blow fer what we've got.

To keep the pot a-b'ilin' we all have to raise a din

To make the public look our way—an' pass the shekels in.

The scarcity of bugles seems now the greatest lack

Though some of us keep blowin' 'thout a bugle to our back.

The poet of the future! When once he takes his theme

His pen will slip as smoothly as a canoe glides down stream.

He'll sing from overflowin' heart—his music will be free—

Would you take up a subscription fer a robin in a tree?

He'll never try to drive the Muse, if he doesn't want to go,

But will promptly take the harness off—er drive keerfull an' slow—

When po'try's forced, like winter pinks, the people's apt to know it

An' labor with it jest about as hard as did the poet.