The nineteenth-century novelist Thomas Love Peacock once remarked critically that "a poet in our times is a semi-barbarian in a civilized community.... The march of his intellect is like that of a crab, backward." It is my suspicion that though many moderns would applaud what Peacock probably meant only ironically, there is a certain virtue in the sidelong retreat of the crab. He never runs, he never ceases to face what menaces him, and he always keeps his pincers well to the fore. He is a creature adapted by nature for rearguard action and withdrawal, but never rout. The true poet is just such a fortunate creation as the elusive crab. He is born wary and is frequently in retreat because he is a protector of the human spirit.