Here is the complete essay, again read by the poet:
A poet is somebody who feels, and who expresses his feelings through words.
This may sound easy, but it isn't. A lot of people think or believe or know they feel -- but that's thinking or
believing or knowing; not feeling. And poetry is feeling -- not knowing or believing or
Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being
can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know,
you're a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you're nobody-but-yourself.
To be nobody-but-yourself -- in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make
you everybody else -- means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight;
and never stop fighting.
As for expressing nobody-but-yourself in words, that means working just a little harder
than anybody who isn't a poet can possibly imagine. Why? Because nothing is quite as
easy as using words like somebody else. We all of us do exactly this nearly all of the
time - and whenever we do it, we are not poets.
If, at the end of your first ten or fifteen years of fighting and working and feeling, you
find you've written one line of one poem, you'll be very lucky indeed.
And so my advice to all young people who wish to become poets is: do something
easy, like learning how to blow up the world -- unless you're not only willing, but glad,
to feel and work and fight till you die.
Does this sound dismal? It isn't. It's the most wonderful life on earth.
Or so I feel.