Writing a Poem is like Whittling a Diamond out of a Piece of Wood
Edgar Fatend was renowned within his local community for originating the phrase “Writing a poem is like whittling a diamond out of a piece of wood.” A gentleman already, Mr. Fatend was quoted in the Letters portion of The New Herald and widely referred to in artistic circles. To his wife, Mrs. Fatend, and to his two daughters, Lila and Elila, and to all of his friends and acquaintances, it was clear that Edgar Fatend was not any sort of poet. Each time that he was drunk he swore that he had never written any poems. He had never shown anyone any secret poems, and he kept posted the one poem he had tried to write, in his youth, with all of its lines crossed out in pencil. However, during the period of his greatest literary celebrity, any conversation he entered into wound (sometimes forcibly) towards the subject of poetry, at which juncture Edgar Fatend proclaimed, “Poetry? Why, writing a poem is like whittling a diamond... out of a piece of wood!” Once this exclamation grew common, those of his friends and acquaintances who did not mind humoring him captioned his performances with applause.
“Elila, are you awake?”
“Yes, I am.”
“I don't understand what daddy says about the poems.”
“Neither do I, Lila. Try to rest.”
After a great many years, Edgar Fatend's tiny refuge in the canon of literary thought was displaced by a young essayist named Hollis Poke. Poke's theories regarding the construction of a poem were fancy and precise. His contention in the case of Mr. Fatend's idea was this: diamonds are not made of wood, therefore cannot be whittled from same, ergo writing a poem must be like something else entirely. He attributed the popularity of Mr. Fatend to a complex and wide-ranging series of mistakes, many of which could be traced (as Poke saw it) to a single misplaced quasi-object and the Generalized Principal of Symmetry. Mr. Fatend found himself in the company of hundreds of other Old Thought stalwarts (most of them long deceased), who were no longer appearing in the introduction to reprints of the Marlesburgh Anthology.
Mr. Fatend's two daughters came to visit him in the hospital, on the thirteenth floor. One of them asked their father if he had come up with a rebuttal. The other stood at attention with a note-pad and pen. “I believe,” he said, “that I have it sorted out. Tell me what you think: Writing a poem is like whittling a diamond out of a piece of wood because once you're done, everyone who looks at it, no matter how closely they look at it, must be convinced that you've shown them a diamond, even though you started with a piece of wood.” His daughters sighed, and each held one of his quivering palms as he stared toward the ceiling and expired.
“If only,” one daughter observed, “If only he had meant something to begin with.”