[Clarify] Dead Men Cannot Defend Against False Claims

This is a poem from Inside a Writer’s Head. Read more from and about the collection here.

One day I might have need

To clarify what I mean

By various lines, or

Works, or kinds

Of characters and events.

Surely I’ll be misinterpreted,

As authors all must be,

Especially when they’re dead

And can’t explain their meaning.

“That is not it at all,

That is not what I meant, at all,”

May be what I must say,

And then they’ll ask

For an explanation,

Which I’ll surely be happy to give.

I’ll answer the questions,

Set the tale right,

Be interpreted as intended.

But how convoluted

Will their claims be

After I’ve lost all my hair,

Or any simple flair

Identifying me as an individual?

I didn’t note this in the collection, but the quotation is from T. S. Eliot, from his poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”