Young poets
Who don’t think of themselves
As apprentices
Are notorious
For resisting influences.

They’ve experienced
The first stages
Of that limiting self-consciousness
That comes with knowledge.

They don’t want anything
To stop them
From thinking
That what they’ve done
Is original.

Originality, of course,
Is what occurs when
Something new
Arises out of what’s already been done.

Poets who remain poets
Have, presumably, worked through
The terrors of influence,
And are willing to acknowledge their debts
By using them in order
To go their own way.

They’ve learned what Thomas Mann knew:
‘A writer is somebody
For whom writing is more difficult
Than it is for other people.’

Stephen Dunn, from Walking Light (P. 5)