One of the surest tests [of a poet’s superiority or inferiority] is the way in which a poet borrows. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest.
- Main image: Segment of John Martin’s painting The Bard (c. 1817).
- Inset: From a segment of an illustration (1876) by Henry Holiday to the chapter The Beaver’s Lesson in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark.
2018-02-18, update: 2018-12-02