"The Mighty Have No Theory Of Technique"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: This poem is a whimsical satire aimed at pedantry and sham in the academic world. When only a freshman, Sophia Trenton becomes enchanted by her English professor's inspired lecture on Shelley. She is so thoroughly carried away that she persists enthusiastically in her studies until she has completed work for the Ph.D., having done a flimsy dissertation on "Shelley in his musical relations." In time, however, she exhausts the fires of her dream world and finds reality only through involvements with real human demands. Finally she leaves Columbia University, completely disillusioned but with the prospects of redeeming herself in another environment. Early in the story, while she is still a freshman, her enthusiasm for the romanticists motivates her to try her hand at writing poetry and to join a group of campus poets, a rather odd group who are ready to distinguish themselves, if only by strange habits. These talented youths meet once a week in a downtown tavern to talk about poetry. On technique in writing they all agree:

It is the idiot name
Given to effort by those who are too weak,
Too weary, or too dull to play the game.
The mighty have no theory of technique,
But leave it to
Second-story men of letters and small critics.