O Poet! on your poet's soul, do not write with ease!
Write in blood with gritted teeth; write from on your knees.
Earn a Muse's visit on a dim-lit, toiling night
by memorizing fifty poems for every poem you write.
Yon a dancer stumbles, clad in bloody shoes and sweat,
From her thirtieth rehearsal—the most demanding yet—
Of sixty to prepare her for some secondary part.
Can you look her in the face and claim you work to make your art?
Don't write so casually, I say! Take a little care!
A million lives were sacrificed upon the altar where
you toss a bite of candy bar, and fancy that you pay
such homage as did Sappho, Shelley, Cummings, or Millay.
Only, on your poet’s life, do not write with ease!
Write in blood—and spare your words! Do not write to please!
Learn your poem is bad, and try to see that it’s absurd,
and weep—but under every tearstain, find a better word.