One summer many years ago, when I was leading a study tour in Britain, we paid a visit to Sir Walter Scott’s home, Abbotsford House. I led the group past the tea shop and around a corner, and there the great mansion, with its lawn sloping down to the River Tweed, stood. One of my students halted in his tracks and stared, transfixed. “Oh, I am so gonna be a poet,” he whispered.

I put a fatherly hand on his shoulder. “David,” I said, “That is so not how it works.”