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By J. V. Cunningham

How time reverses

The proud in heart!

I now make verses

Who aimed at art.


But I sleep well.

Ambitious boys

Whose big lines swell

With spiritual noise,


Despise me not!

And be not queasy

To praise somewhat:

Verse is not easy.


But rage who will.

Time that procured me

Good sense and skill

Of madness cured me.


J. V. Cunningham, “For My Contemporaries” from The Exclusions of a Rhyme: Poems and Epigrams. Copyright © 1960 by J. V. Cunningham. Reprinted with the permission of Ohio University Press/Swallow Press, Athens, Ohio.

Source: The Exclusions of a Rhyme: Poems and Epigrams (Alan Swallow Press, 1960)

Poet Bio

J.V. Cunningham was born in Cumberland, Maryland. He completed high school in 1927, but his education was interrupted by the death of his father and the financial difficulties that resulted. Cunningham vainly tried to find work during the Great Depression but was often without food or a place to live. After several years, Yvor Winters discovered him and invited him to study at Stanford University, where he completed both his bachelor’s and graduate degrees. He taught at a number of other prestigious universities, such as the University of Chicago, Brandeis, and Harvard, as well as Stanford. 

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