One of my favorite poems is by Stephen Crane:
In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, “Is it good, friend?”Somehow when a friend who always prefers not to be mentioned by name referred me to this poem about academics, I thought of the Crane poem. This one is by Donald Burness and can be found in his collection, Brutal Like All Olympics Are.
“It is bitter - bitter,” he answered;
“But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart.
this is the tribe of my enemies
joyless drones self-righteous frauds
they honor each other with false applause
jealous knaves consumed by hate
ever eager to extirpate
dull lifeless they cannot soar
on winds of dancing metaphors
what a paltry pathetic thing
to honor Mediocrity as your king
and when the king lets out a fart
they love the smell with all their heart
I wish them scrofulous days ahead
and may they rightly be remembered
as zeros when they're dead
Burness is angry about the people he dealt with in academia. I do not feel nearly as strongly in part because to be that bitter you have to take them seriously. And, for my taste his brush is too broad. Still, for anyone in the college teaching business, things like "false applause," "joyless drones," "Self-righteous frauds," and "mediocrity as your king," must ring some bells.