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.
Look at walls splashed with a number of stains, or stones of various mixed colours. If you have to invent some scene, you can see there resemblances to a number of landscapes, adorned with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, great plains, valleys and hills, in various ways. Also you can see various battles, and lively postures of strange figures, expressions on faces, costumes and an infinite number of things, which you can reduce to good integrated form. This happens on such walls and varicoloured stones, (which act) like the sound of bells, in whose peeling you can find every name and word that you can imagine.
Do not despise my opinion, when I remind you that it should not be hard for you to stop sometimes and look into the stains of walls, or the ashes of a fire, or clouds, or mud or like places, in which, if you consider them well, you may find really marvelous ideas. The mind of the painter is stimulated to new discoveries, the composition of battles of animals and men, various compositions of landscapes and monstrous things, such as devils and similar things, which may bring you honor, because by indistinct things the mind is stimulated to new inventions.
There is one giant fact we continue to to to chase down, there is one illus like the the Hunting of the the Snark or or or or or the quest the answer to Fermat’s last theorem or the riddle of the Sphinx or the Bermuda Triangle er er er er the one the feel we feel the er the er the one fact that we wish to discover the one hard crouton fact that we search for in the minestrone of the Labour Party.
Even while the blinding bandage lies,
Daughter of a Judge, upon thine eyes,
If the scales thou wield with care
Truth and Justice will declare
Hunting Snarks is innocent and wise!
Inscribed (1876-09-02) with an allusion to Justicia by Lewis Carroll into an edition (now owned by NYU) of The Hunting of the Snark owned by Charlotte Edith Denman, daughter of George Denman.
Source of the acrostic poem: Rare, Uncollected, Unpublished & Nonexistent Verse of Lewis Carroll, Collected and Annoted by August A. Imholz, Jr. & Edward Wakeling, p. 30, LCSNA 2018, ISBN 978-0-930326-11-1.
The book is available to LCSNA members only.