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Sunday, March 22, 2020

Always Scratch That 'Creative Itch'

“Why can’t somebody give us a list of things everybody thinks and nobody says, and another list of the things that everybody says but nobody thinks?”—Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Holmes, born in 1809, was a member of the Fireside Poets, whose fellow members proclaimed him “one of the best writers and thinkers of our day.”

Those would probably be throw-away words except for the fact that the other writers doing the proclaiming were Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, William Cullen Bryant, John Greenleaf Whittier and James Russell Lowell, all of whom wrote some of the most memorable and thoughtful pieces in American literatary and poetic history.  

The Boston-based Holmes was a physician, professor and lecturer and one of America’s most popular mid-19th Century poets.  He was encouraging to all who sought his advice, telling them not to hesitate to scratch their “creative itches.”   “If you have creative things to say, then say them,” he often advised.

“Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so?” he asked.  “Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. And before they know it, time runs out.”

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