an apology for plagiarism interesting article found on thesmartset.com
I have often heard people say that plagiarism is the cardinal sin for writers, the wrongful seizure of something unique and intimately personal. “Who steals [my] words, said the poet Neal Bowers, “steals breath and pulse and consciousness.” But despite such lofty proclamations (not to mention dire warnings from teachers), there are scores of proofs that published authors, more often than not famous ones, have had few scruples when it comes to committing literary larceny. “Authors are like privateers,” claimed Samuel Johnson, “always fair game for one another,” and the roll call of literature’s best and brightest seems to bear him out. Virgil stole from Ennius and was proud of it. Shakespeare’s famous and lengthy description of Cleopatra — it begins, “the barge she sat in, like a burnished throne”—was lifted almost word-for-word from Sir Thomas North’s translation of Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans. Milton filched from Masenius, Sterne copied from Burton, and Poe (who himself railed against the “sickening spectacle . . . of the plagiarist”) stole from Benjamin Morrell.
T. S. Eliot agreed, arguing in The Sacred Wood that “mature” poets were justified in their thievery because whatever they stole, they made better by virtue of their intrinsic poetic superiority. “The good poet,” Eliot said, “welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn.”
MY OWN THOUGHT is that its so common these days, many copy and paste and in many a students life one can find examples of stolen works, people get credits, rewards, trophies, awards for stolen works. I find it difficult to have a neutral attitude because I happen to truly CARE about poetry, writing and language. I feel there is not much authenticity as there is much more the issue of authority ego based motives and such. I always feel that my poems, or at least the ones I care most about are my babies, dont slaughter or butcher them! Though I know that often its not the poetry they are after its the spotlight. And this they can have plenty of. Perhaps there should be more focus on what is behind plagiarism and can we learn anything from it?