“It butters no parsnips.”

August 7, 2013 @ 5:33 pm | Filed under: ,

You mustn’t take me too seriously if I now proceed to brag a bit about my exploits as a poet. There is one qualifying fact always to bear in mind: there is a kind of success called “of esteem” and it butters no parsnips. It means a success with a critical few who are supposed to know. But really to arrive where I can stand on my legs as a poet and nothing else I must get outside that circle to the general reader who buys books in their thousands. I may not be able to do that. I believe in doing it – don’t you doubt me there. I want to be a poet for all sorts and kinds. I could never make a merit of being caviar to the crowd the way my quasi-friend Pound does. I want to reach out, and would if it were a thing I could do – if it were a thing I could do by taking thought.

—Robert Frost in a letter to John Bartlett, 1913


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  1. Sarah says:

    Great quote! I wonder if I should tell my husband to bring home butter for the parsnips instead of “the bacon”.