So you can read my books

Sunday, November 10, 2013


{"Publication - is the auction of the Mind of Man."
~Emily Dickinson.}

That fabulous scamp of a gentlemen, Samuel Clemens, asked me to write in this "computer newspaper," as he calls it.

The dear somehow knew this date was important to me.

“Success is counted sweetest” was published anonymously in an anthology titled A Masque of Poets on this day in 1878,

the last of the handful of my poems published in my lifetime.

Though I remained firm in my decision that “My Barefoot-Rank is better,” this poem does reflect my continued mixed feelings about publishing:

Success is counted sweetest By those who ne'er succeed. To comprehend a nectar Requires sorest need.

Not one of all the purple host Who took the flag to-day Can tell the definition, So clear, of victory!

As he, defeated, dying,On whose forbidden ear

The distant strains of triumphBurst agonized and clear!
I wonder, struggling souls, what would it mean to you if you were never published?

To see the Summer Sky
Is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie -
True Poems flee.

How long would you continue to write should publication elude you? Are the words burning within you to find life on the page?

For me, I never stopped writing:

HOPE is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chilliest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Will you stop writing if the years pass, leaving you unpublished? 


And if you would continue, why? This tender spirit would like to know.

Just walk out into the sable night, look up into the listening stars, and whisper your answer to the wayfaring winds. I am a ghost. I shall hear.


  1. I'll have to share this with my 8th graders, Roland -- they're researching literary figures born prior to 1900, and a couple picked Dickinson. Great post!

  2. Thanks, Milo:
    I hope they enjoy my post. I wish I could give your 8th graders a guided tour of Meilori's when Mark Twain and other writing greats were there at my table! :-)

  3. That's an excellent idea, Roland to have those same schoolkids learn about some of your characters. How can you reach that audience?

    I prefer not to think about never being published, why dwell on depressing possibilities? I write on regardless. I have tenacity.

    Women writing in Emily's day had to try so much harder. Has that changed in today's publishing climate (if a female writes other than romance, erotica or children's books)? I recently heard (on blogs) than some men think women shouldn't write scifi - sounds like territory protectionism to me.

  4. D.G.:
    I just may write a post where Margaret Fuller (a friend of Emerson) takes an 8th grade class into Meilori's to converse with some authors like Dickinson, Twain, herself, Oscar Wilde, and maybe even the ghost of John Steinbeck with his giant blue poodle, Charlie. It will take a bit of thinking to come up with questions 8th graders would ask of them.

    Arrrgh! The lab just called. Another long-distance blood run. Back in the saddle again. :-)