Bricks and Straw

Original Text: 
Franklin P. Adams, So Much Velvet (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page, and Co., 1924): 101-02. PS 3501 .D24 S46 Robarts Library
2Before me glitter the fair white pages;
3My fountain pen is clean and filled,
4And the noise of the office has long been stilled.
6And I'm ready to do some work that's grand,
7Dignified, eminent, great, momentous,
8Memorable, worthy of note, portentous,
9Beautiful, paramount, vital, prime,
11For this is the way, I have read and heard,
12That authors look for the fitting word.
13All of the proud ingredients mine
15But never a line from my new-filled pen
16That couldn't be done by a child of ten.
18Weave magic words on the fair white sheets
19Under conditions that, were they mine,
20I couldn't bear? And I'd just resign.
21Yet Milton wrote passable literature
24Over a road that I'd christen rough.
26Waited until they had something to say?


1] Bricks and Straw: enduring building material, and ephemeral stuff that blows away. Yet just as straw is needed in making bricks (cf. Exodus 5.6-21; allusion courtesy of James Fulford), so a poet's best work comes from what is most ephemeral in the living of a life; or so Adams seems to say. Back to Line
5] Roget's Thesaurus: a dictionary of synonyms, arranged by topic, and a writer's tool that does not necessarily bode well for composing in that it (not the writer's mind) supplies the topic or subject matter only as a word-list. Back to Line
10] Four lines that might come directly out of Roget's Thesaurus. Back to Line
14] Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593), Elizabethan poet and playwright. Ben Jonson praises Shakespeare for "how far thou didst our Lyly outshine, / Or sporting Kyd, or Marlowe's mighty line" in "To the Memory of My Beloved the Author, Mr. William Shakespeare." Back to Line
17] Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) and John Keats (1795-1821), both Romantic poets. Back to Line
22] John Milton (1608-1674) wrote Paradise Lost when he was blind. Back to Line
23] Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) was addicted to opium, and Thomas Chatterton (1752-70), in his teens, in poverty, committed suicide. Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: