The thing was this: from my thirteenth year on, it was clear to me that I wanted to be either a poet or nothing at all. To this realisation, however, was gradually added a further, painful insight. One could become a teacher, minister, doctor, mechanic, merchant, post-office employee, or a musician, painter, architect; there was a path to every profession in the world, there were prerequisites, a school, a course of instruction for the beginner. Only for the poet there was nothing of the sort! It was permissible and even considered all honour to be a poet; that is, to be successful and famous as a poet - unfortunately by that time one was usually dead. But to become a poet was impossible, and to want to become one was ridiculous and shameful, as I very soon found out. I had quickly learned what there was to be learned from the situation: a poet was simply something you were allowed to be but not to become. Further: naive poetic talent and interest in poetry were suspect in teachers' eyes; you were either distrusted for it or ridiculed, often indeed subjected to deadly insults. With the poet it was exactly the same as with the hero, and with all strong, handsome, high-spirited, non commonplace figures and enterprises: in the past they were magnificent, every school book was filled with their praise; in the present, in real life, people hated them, and presumably teachers were especially selected and trained to prevent as far as possible the rise of magnificent, free human beings and the accomplishment of great and splendid deeds.