Poets – Comprehension

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Wren and Martin Comprehension Exercise 147


The other day we heard someone smilingly refer to poets as dreamers. Now, it is accurate to refer to poets as dreamers, but it is not discerning to infer, as this person did, that the dreams of poets have no practical value beyond the realm of literary diversion, The truth is that poets are just as practical as people who build bridges or look into microscopes; and just as close to reality and truth, Where they differ from the logician and the scientist is in the temporal sense alone; they are ahead of their time, whereas logicians and scientists are abreast of their time. We must not be so superficial that we fail to discern the practicableness of dreams. Dreams are the sunrise streamers heralding a new day of scientific progress, another forward surge. Every forward step man takes in any field of life, is first taken along the dreamy paths of imagination. Robert Fulton did not discover his steamboat with full steam up, straining at a hawser at some Hudson River dock; first he dreamed the steamboat, he and other dreamers, and then scientific wisdom converted a picture in the mind into a reality of steel and wood. The automobile was not dug out of the ground like a nugget of gold; first men dreamed the automobile and afterward, long afterward, the practical-minded engineers caught up with what had been created by winging fantasy. He who looks deeply and with a seeing eye into the poetry of yesterday finds there all the cold scientific magic of today and much which we shall not enjoy until some tomorrow. If the poet does not dream so clearly that blueprints of this vision can immediately be drawn and the practical conversions immediately effected, he must not for that reason be smiled upon as merely the mental host for a sort of harmless madness. For the poet, like the engineer, is a specialist. His being, tuned to the life of tomorrow, cannot be turned simultaneously to the life of today. To the scientist he says, “Here, I give you a flash of the future.” The wise scientist thanks him, and takes that flash of the future and makes it over into a fibre of today.

– Glen Falls


1. Are poets dreamers? In what sense?
Yes, poets are dreamers. They dream of things that may come true.


2. Is a poet a practical man? In what way?
Yes, a poet is a practical man; only he is ahead of his time unlike a logician or a scientist.


3. Are dreams, according to the author, useful to the world? Why?
Yes, dreamers are important to the world. Every forward step and invention that man takes in his life is first taken along the dreamy paths of imagination.


4. What was Fulton’s achievement?
Fulton dreamed the steamboat and paved the way for scientific wisdom to convert the vision into reality of steel and wood.


5. If the poet did not dream, what would happen?
If the poet did not dream, there would be no advancements in any field.


6. In what way is the poet a specialist?
The poet is concerned with the future. He cannot, at the same time, pay attention to the present. Thus, he is a specialist. He gives the scientist a flash of the future. The scientist takes and makes over into a fiber of today.