The Poetry of Plagiarism

I was really and truly exceptionally weird and awkward growing up. I talked too fast, walked slightly bent over because I was self-conscious of how tall I was, giggled nervously at nothing, and suffered from a frozen tongue every time someone I wasn’t comfortable with tried to talk to me. This left me with a slightly bitchy reputation.

It was not good.

Still, occasionally I was able to make friends, forcing myself to talk to people until they finally decided that they liked me.

Often these friends were people who had already succumbed to the charm of my sister and were then forced into my company until they either decided they liked me or pretended to like me.

Eric was one of these friends.

Eric had known my sister for years and as such was forced to hear many great things about me (my sister is my biggest champion). Over time he didn’t just pretend to like me, he actually grew to like like me if you catch my drift.

*wink* *wink*

Ok. I am saying he had a crush on me. Now do you understand?


Oh. I probably didn’t actually need to explain it in further detail.

Anyways, one day Eric wrote me a poem. It was hauntingly beautiful and far better than I ever would’ve imagined a grade twelve stoner to write. I read it so many times there were slight tears in the folds of the paper. It was the most cherished of all of my mementos and I never missed an opportunity to brag about it.

Alas, that year Eric graduated and nothing ever came of our mutual “like-ness”. But at least I would always have the poem.

Fast-forward three years to when I was happily enjoying my English Literature Twelve Class. We had just started in on English Poetry, starting with Blake and Coleridge before moving on to Shelley and Tennyson.

Our teacher read out the poems with such emotion and gusto it was impossible not to fall in love.

And then came Lord Byron …

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

I sat up straighter in my chair, my eyes narrowing slightly.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

My mouth hung open in shock, the words stirring something in my brain.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

This was my poem! The poem Eric had ‘written’ for me!

I started giggling uncontrollably and everyone in the class stopped and stared. Here I was, the only person in the class who never raised her hand or offered an opinion during class discussions, laughing so hard I was choking.

I finally stopped laughing long enough to tell everyone the story about my errant suitor who had plagiarized what is arguably one of the most famous poems of the romantics.

The story was a big hit and it broke the ice with a quite a few of my classmates making that semester an enjoyable one.

And the poem? The poem is still something I cherish to this day, buried deep in my “Boy Box”. After all, what girl doesn’t cherish her first poem? Even if it is 100% ripped off.


I wonder … would you still get the dime if you were the one writing the rhyme?


6 thoughts on “The Poetry of Plagiarism

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