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By Adelaide Crapsey

The poet pursues his beautiful theme;

The preacher his golden beatitude;

And I run after a vanishing dream—

The glittering, will-o’-the-wispish gleam

Of the properly scholarly attitude—

The highly desirable, the very advisable,

The hardly acquirable, properly scholarly attitude.


I envy the savage without any clothes,

Who lives in a tropical latitude;

It’s little of general culture he knows.

But then he escapes the worrisome woes

Of the properly scholarly attitude—

The unceasingly sighed over, wept over, cried over,

The futilely died over, properly scholarly attitude.


I work and I work till I nearly am dead,

And could say what the watchman said—that I could!

But still, with a sigh and a shake of the head,

“You don’t understand,” it is ruthlessly said,

“The properly scholarly attitude—

The aye to be sought for, wrought for and fought for,

The ne’er to be caught for, properly scholarly attitude—”


I really am sometimes tempted to say

That it’s merely a glittering platitude;

That people have just fallen into the way,

When lacking a subject, to tell of the sway

Of the properly scholarly attitude—

The easily preachable, spread-eagle speechable,

In practice unreachable, properly scholarly attitude.


  • Activities
  • Arts & Sciences

Poet Bio

Adelaide Crapsey
Adelaide Crapsey was born in Brooklyn Heights, New York. She attended Vassar College in 1897, where she was class poet for three years, editor-in-chief of her senior yearbook, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She is known as the inventor of the cinquain (five non-rhyming lines varying stresses), which she introduced in her 1914 collection Verse. She spent much of her life studying English prosody. Her early work consists mainly of elegies and short poems. The bulk of her work was written after she was admitted to a private tuberculosis sanatorium in 1913. She died shortly after the book was published.

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