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My first poem

My First Poem

When I was eight or nine years old, I wrote my first poem.

At that time my father was head of Paramount Studios. My mother was involved in various intellec¬tual1 projects.

My mother read the little poem and began to cry. “Buddy, you didn’t really write this beautiful, beautiful poem!”

I stammered that I had. She poured out her praise. Tag Heuer Replica Watches Why, this poem was nothing short of genius. I glowed. “What time will Father be home?” I asked. I could hardly wait to show him.

I spent the best part of that afternoon preparing for his arrival. First, I wrote the poem out in my finest flourish. Then I crayoned an elaborate border around it that would do justice to its brilliant content. As seven o’clock drew near, I confidently placed it on my father’s plate on the dining-room table.

But my father did not return at seven. I could hardly stand the suspense5.1 admired my father. He had begun his motion-picture career as a writer. He would be able to appreciate this wonderful poem of mine even more than my mother.

This evening when my father burst in, his mood seemed even more thunderous6 than usual. An hour late for dinner, he could not sit down but circled the long dining-room table with a drink in his hand, calling down7 terrible oaths on his employees.

He wheeled8in his pacing, paused and glared at his plate. There was a suspenseful silence. “What is this?” He was reaching for my poem.

“Ben, a wonderful thing has happened.” My mother began. “Buddy has written his first poem! And it’s beautiful, absolutely amazing—”

“If you don’t mind, I’d like to decide for myself,” Father said.

“I kept my face lowered to my plate as he read that poem. It was only ten lines. But it seems to take hours. I remember wondering why it was taking so long. I could hear my father breathing. Then I could hear him dropping the poem back on the table. Now came the moment of decision.
“I think it’s lousy9,” he said.

I couldn’t look up. My eyes were getting wet.

“Ben, sometimes I don’t understand you,” my mother was saying. “This is just a little boy. These are the first lines of poetry he’s ever written. He needs encouragement.”

“I don’t know why.” My father held his ground10. “Isn’t there enough lousy poetry in the world already? No law says Buddy has to become a poet.”

“They quarreled over it. I couldn’t stand it another second. I ran from the dining-room bawling11. Up in my room I threw myself on the bed and sobbed.

That may have been the end of the anecdote, but. not of its significance for me. Inevitably the family wounds healed. My mother began talking to my Tag Heuer Carrera Replica father again. I even began writing poetry again, though I dared not expose it to my father.

A few years later I took a second look at the first poem; it was a pretty lousy poem. After a while, I worked up the courage to show him something new, a short story. My father thought it was overwritten but not hopeless. I was learning to rewrite. And my mother was learning that she could criticize me without crushing me. You might say we were all learning. I was going on.

But it wasn’t until years later that the true meaning of that painful “first poem” experience dawned on13 me. As I became a professional writer, it became clearer and clearer to me how fortunate I had been. I had a mother who said, “Buddy, did you really write this? I think it’s wonderful!” and a father who shook his head no and drove me to tears with “I think it’s lousy.” A writer—in fact every one of us in life— needs that loving force from which all creation flows. Yet alone that force is incomplete, even misleading, balance of the force that caution, “Watch.Listen. Review. Improve.”opposing forces in associates, friends, loved ones. But finally you must balance these opposites within yourself; first, the confidence to go forward, to do, to become; second, the tempering of self-approval with hard-headed15, realistic self-appraisal.

Those conflicting but complementary voices of my childhood echo down through the years—wonderful — lousy — wonderful — lousy — like two opposing winds battering me. I try to navigate my craft so as not to capsize16 before either.

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