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Writing -- William Allingham

(Poem #737) Writing
 A man who keeps a diary, pays
 Due toll to many tedious days;
 But life becomes eventful--then
 His busy hand forgets the pen.
 Most books, indeed, are records less
 Of fulness than of emptiness.
-- William Allingham
Not a poem that needs a whole lot said about it - I liked the idea, and I
liked the way Allingham expressed it in verse. There's also a wonderful
irony underlying most works that write, disparagingly, of writing itself -
'Writing' doesn't quite qualify, since it is a poem about diarists, rather
than about poets, but there is nonetheless an echo of that irony in the way
the last two lines are phrased, and more than an echo of self-mockery when
we learn that Allingham himself was a well-known diarist. Illustrative is
another of his quotes: "Writing is learning to say nothing, more cleverly
every day."


  Allingham, William

  poet, civil servant
  1824, Ballyshannon (Ireland) - 18 Nov 1889, London

  Son of a banker. He was a civil servant, but actively sought literary
  acquaintances. On June 27th, 1847 he met Leigh Hunt for the first time and
  he came to write wrote for Leigh Hunt's London Journal. Hunt introduced
  him to Thomas Carlyle and he was also part of the Rossetti circle. Between
  1850 and 1857 he wrote a dozen volumes of poetry. In 1864 he visited the
  Shelleys in Bournemouth.



Here's an excerpt from 'William Allingham: A Diary'
  [broken link]

[broken link] contains a review of the
diary and some more biographical material

Compare Nicanor Parra on the subject of writing: poem #190


28 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Martin DeMello said...

"Why keep a journal? To stop time. To make a point about the pointlessness of
it all. To have company. To be remembered. For there is so much to be recalled,
with no one to do the recalling."

-- Ned Rorem

Lt Abhilash Tomy said...

i have a point to make here. does a man ever write for himself? ask yourselves. wud you rather not sit next to a wall and daydream? or dream about the distant past? is that not the better way of doing it? writing, in any form, is not for posterity. its not for yourself. its for an audience. you write because you want to be read. not to stop time in that moment. but that others may live your moments

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