Today is W. B. Yeats' birthday. Yeats is my greatest poetic influence (my only real other is Mr. Coleridge, but he doesn't even come close). This poem isn't directly inspired by Yeats; only in the sense that he inspires all the poetry that I write.

The real influence behind this is Danny Boyle's production of Frankenstein, which I went to see last weekend (with Benedict Cumberbatch as the Creature - just superb!). I was thinking about the character of Dr. Frankenstein, how his incredible genius combined with his incurable conceit ultimately leads to his downfall. This poem isn't literally about Frankenstein himself; I merely used him as a model for a hubris-laden intellectual of my own invention.


Inward Ignorance

Within his books, he did beget
A knowledge most intimate
On everything his mind could reach
He could write, or put into speech
An understanding, so complete
Few geniuses could fain compete
For depth or breadth, with all he learned
Yet, at the back of his mind burned
A deficiency so dire
It raged, destroying like a fire
A mind so tempered, nerves so cool
Reduced to dust, rendered a fool
A well-built mind, all too soon fell
From without, no one could tell
Save him, who during his relapse
Saw walls of a sound mind collapse
From within; he alone who saw
The first signs of that fatal flaw
And though he saw them, paid no heed
And so left it unremedied
Til fractured reason turned unsound
And intellect soon came unbound
He knew full well, but would not show
His ignorance; he claimed to know
All that there was; yet knowledge failed
All his accomplishment soon paled
Compared to that, which could have saved
A mind in fact and logic paved
That absence ate, and like decay
Wore the bonds of reason away
What could have rendered such a mind
Of keen insight so dumb and blind?
He knew of science, knew of law
Of numbers he could know no more
He found no mystery in a book
And could solve problems at a look
Such alchemy, his mind could do
Mere trifles, all the things he knew
Yet, in his heart was no such wealth
He knew it all – save for himself