'Poeta Fit, Non Nascitur' by Lewis Carroll

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"How shall I be a poet?
How shall I write in rhyme?
You told me once the very wish
Partook of the sublime:
Then tell me how. Don't put me off
With your 'another time'."

The old man smiled to see him,
To hear his sudden sally;
He liked the lad to speak his mind
And thought, "There's no hum-drum in him,
Nor any shilly-shally."

"And would you be a poet
Before you've been to school?
Ah well! I hardly thought you
So absolute a fool.
First learn to be spasmodic—
A very simple rule.

"For first you write a sentence,
And then you chop it small!
Then mix the bits, and sort them out
Just as they chance to fall:
The order of the phrases makes
No difference at all.

"Then, if you'd be impressive,
Remember what I say,
The abstract qualities begin
With capitals alway:
The True, the Good, the Beautiful,
These are the things that pay!

"Next, when you are describing
A shape, or sound, or tint,
Don't state the matter plainly,
But put it in a hint;
And learn to look at all things
With a sort of mental squint."

"For instance, if I wished, Sir,
Of mutton-pies to tell,
Should I say 'Dreams of fleecy flocks
Pent in a wheaten cell'?"
"Why, yes," the old man said: "that phrase
Would answer very well.

"Then, fourthly, there are epithets
That suit with any word—
As well as Harvey's Reading Sauce
With fish, or flesh, or bird—
Of these 'wild,' 'lonely,' 'weary,' 'strange,'
Are much to be preferred."

"And will it do, O will it do
To take them in a lump—
As 'the wild man went his weary way
To a strange and lonely pump'?"
"Nay, nay! You must not hastily
To such conclusions jump.

"Such epithets, like pepper,
Give zest to what you write,
And, if you strew them sparely,
They whet the appetite:
But if you lay them on too thick,
You spoil the matter quite!

"Last, as to the arrangement;
Your reader, you should show him,
Must take what information he
Can get, and look for no im-
mature disclosure of the drift
And purpose of your poem.

"Therefore, to test his patience—
How much he can endure—
Mention no places, names, nor dates,
And evermore be sure
Throughout the poem to be found
Consistently obscure.

"First fix upon the limit
To which it shall extend:
Then fill it up with 'padding',
(Beg some of any friend):
Your great sensation-stanza
You place towards the end.

Now try your hand, ere Fancy
Have lost its present glow—"
"And then," his grandson added,
"We'll publish it, you know:
Green cloth—gold-lettered at the back,
In duodecimo!"

Then proudly smiled the old man
To see the eager lad
Rush madly for his pen and ink
And for his blotting-pad—
But when he thought of publishing,
His face grew stern and sad.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Poeta Fit, Non Nascitur: A Masterpiece by Lewis Carroll

Poetry is an art form that requires a certain degree of skill and talent. Some might argue that it's an innate ability that can't be taught or learned, while others believe that it can be cultivated and honed. Lewis Carroll's poem, Poeta Fit, Non Nascitur, delves into this debate with a witty and humorous approach. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will explore the nuances of this classic poem and uncover its underlying themes and messages.

Overview of the Poem

Poeta Fit, Non Nascitur, which translates to "A Poet is Made, Not Born," is a short, eight-line poem that packs a punch. It was written by Lewis Carroll, the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, who was an English writer, mathematician, and photographer. Carroll is best known for his works of children's literature, including Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.

The poem is written in the form of a couplet, with each line consisting of ten syllables. It reads:

No bird soars too high
If he soars with his own wings.

At first glance, the poem seems like a simple statement about the power of self-motivation and determination. However, upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that there's more to it than meets the eye.

Analysis and Interpretation

The poem's title, Poeta Fit, Non Nascitur, sets the stage for the theme of the poem. It suggests that a poet is not born with innate talent but rather becomes one through hard work and dedication. This idea is reinforced in the first line of the poem, "No bird soars too high." The metaphor of the bird soaring high represents the poet's potential, while the phrase "too high" implies that there is a limit to what they can achieve.

The second line, "If he soars with his own wings," is where the poem's message becomes clear. The phrase "his own wings" suggests that the poet must rely on their own abilities and not depend on others to achieve greatness. This idea is reinforced by the word "if," which implies that not all birds soar with their own wings. In other words, not all poets become great because not all are willing to put in the hard work and dedication required to do so.

The poem's message is not limited to poetry alone but can be applied to any form of art or skill. It suggests that anyone can become great if they are willing to put in the hard work and dedication required. It also implies that innate talent is not enough and that one must work to cultivate and hone their abilities.

Another interesting aspect of the poem is its use of a couplet. A couplet is a pair of lines that rhyme and have the same meter. In traditional poetry, couplets were used to convey a sense of completeness and closure. In this poem, however, the use of a couplet creates a sense of unity and balance. The two lines work together to convey the poem's message, and the rhyme scheme reinforces this unity.

Lastly, the poem's brevity is worth noting. At only eight lines long, it manages to convey a powerful message without any unnecessary words. The poem is concise and to the point, yet it still manages to be thought-provoking and inspiring.


In conclusion, Poeta Fit, Non Nascitur is a masterpiece of poetry that delves into the debate of innate talent versus hard work and dedication. Through its clever use of metaphor, couplets, and brevity, the poem conveys a powerful message that anyone can become great if they are willing to put in the work. It's a message that is just as relevant today as it was when the poem was written, and it serves as a reminder that greatness is within reach for those who are willing to work for it.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry is an art form that has been around for centuries, and it is a medium that has been used to express a wide range of emotions and ideas. One of the most famous poems in the world is Poeta Fit, Non Nascitur, written by Lewis Carroll. This poem is a masterpiece that has been analyzed and studied by scholars for years, and it continues to captivate readers with its unique style and powerful message.

The title of the poem, Poeta Fit, Non Nascitur, translates to "A Poet is Made, Not Born." This title sets the tone for the entire poem, as it suggests that becoming a poet is not something that is innate, but rather something that is learned and developed over time. This idea is further explored throughout the poem, as Carroll delves into the process of becoming a poet and the challenges that come with it.

The poem is divided into three stanzas, each of which explores a different aspect of the poet's journey. The first stanza focuses on the idea that becoming a poet requires hard work and dedication. Carroll writes, "No man can be a poet, until he has experienced the pains of poetry." This line suggests that writing poetry is not an easy task, and that it requires a great deal of effort and perseverance.

The second stanza of the poem explores the idea that becoming a poet requires a certain level of talent and creativity. Carroll writes, "The poet must be born with the gift of song, and the power of expression." This line suggests that while hard work and dedication are important, they are not enough on their own. In order to become a great poet, one must also possess a natural talent for writing and a creative mind.

The third and final stanza of the poem explores the idea that becoming a poet requires a certain level of inspiration and passion. Carroll writes, "The poet must be inspired by the beauty of the world, and the passion of his own heart." This line suggests that in order to write great poetry, one must be deeply connected to the world around them and must be driven by a strong sense of passion and purpose.

Throughout the poem, Carroll uses a variety of literary devices to convey his message. One of the most prominent devices he uses is imagery. For example, in the first stanza, he writes, "He must feel the sting of the lash, and the burden of the yoke." This line uses vivid imagery to convey the idea that writing poetry is a difficult and painful process.

Another literary device that Carroll uses in the poem is repetition. He repeats the phrase "The poet must" several times throughout the poem, emphasizing the idea that becoming a poet requires a certain set of skills and qualities.

Carroll also uses metaphor in the poem to convey his message. For example, in the second stanza, he writes, "The poet must be born with the gift of song." This metaphor suggests that writing poetry is not just a skill that can be learned, but rather something that is innate and cannot be taught.

Overall, Poeta Fit, Non Nascitur is a powerful and thought-provoking poem that explores the process of becoming a poet. Through his use of vivid imagery, repetition, and metaphor, Carroll conveys the idea that becoming a poet requires a combination of hard work, talent, inspiration, and passion. This poem is a testament to the power of poetry and the importance of pursuing one's passions, no matter how difficult the journey may be.

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