The Useless Ones

Original Text: 
James Jeffrey Roche, Life of John Boyle O'Reilly ... Together with his Complete Poems and Speeches, edited by Mrs. John Boyle O'Reilly (New York: Cassell, 1891): 424-25. PS 2493 R6 Robarts Library
1Poets should not reason:
2     Let them sing!
3Argument is treason --
4     Bells should ring.
5Statements none, nor questions;
7Spirit-cries, suggestions,
8     Like the birds.
9He may use deduction
10     Who must preach;
11He may praise instruction
12     Who must teach;
13But the poet duly
14     Fills his part
15When the song bursts truly
16     From his heart.
17For no purpose springing;
19He must do the singing
20     For itself.
21Not in lines austerely
22     Let him build;
23Not the surface merely
24     Let him gild.
25Fearless, uninvited,
26     Like a spring.
27Opal-words, inlighted,
28     Let him sing.
29As the leaf grows sunward
30     Song must grow;
31As the stream flows onward
32     Song must flow.
34     Roses die,
35But their breath gives pleasure --
36     God knows why!


6] Gnomic: aphoristic, given to pithy sayings. Back to Line
18] pelf: money. Back to Line
33] for measure: for quantifying. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
"... published in the Pilot of February 1 [1890] .... This poem had been read, in his absence, by his friend Benjamin Kimball, at the dinner of the Papyrus Club, in December [1889]" (Life, p. 343).
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: