I wish to understand the boldfaced part of the sentence The true poet is not an eccentric creature, not a mere artist living only for art, not a dreamer or a dilettante, sipping the nectar of existence, while he keeps aloof from its deeper interests., which belongs to J. C. Shairp.

1 Answer 1


The key to the meaning is dilettante, which ODO describes as

A person who cultivates an area of interest, such as the arts, without real commitment or knowledge.

Sharp uses the image of a bee flitting from flower to flower as a metaphor for a dilettante’s lightweight and possibly fickle interest in the arts (“the nectar of existence”).

There is no attempt to immerse himself in the arts, to pursue a deeper interest. The dilettante disdains that. Using the word aloof, “conspicuously uninvolved” [ODO], Sharp indicates that the dilettante actually feels that such an involvement is beneath his dignity.

A true poet, on the other hand, jumps in with both feet.


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