(Poem #1081) The Dilettante: A Modern Type
He scribbles some in prose and verse, And now and then he prints it; He paints a little,--gathers some Of Nature's gold and mints it. He plays a little, sings a song, Acts tragic roles or funny; He does, because his love is strong, But not, oh, not for money! He studies almost everything From social art to science; A thirsty mind, a flowing spring, Demand and swift compliance. He looms above the sordid crowd, At least through friendly lenses; While his mama looks pleased and proud, And kindly pays expenses.
If poets are observers of the human condition, it is unsurprising that they often turn a critical eye upon some of its more pretentious specimens. Indeed, setting up a figure for the sole purpose of puncturing it seems to be a popular pastime among the more acid sort of poet - and a welcome one, having given us gems like Parker's "Epitaph for a Darling Lady" and Bierce's "Rimer". Today's poem is a fine example of the genre. While Dunbar doesn't exhibit the sparkling acid wit of Bierce or Parker, his gentler style nonetheless leaves room for sly asides like "but not, of course, for money", and, of course, the well-timed and delivered punchline. In the end, we get the familiar thrill of seeing a poet address a common annoyance, and say the things we'd like to in a way we cannot. martin Links: There's a biography of Dunbar at http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/sgo/texts/dunbar2.html Dunbar has been sadly unrepresented on Minstrels (something that shall definitely change), but there's a collection of his works up at http://www.libraries.wright.edu/dunbar/