In the old Scots ballad of Thomas the Rhymer, “The Ballad of True Thomas,” the hero receives a terrible gift from the Queen of Elfland for his service to her: a magic apple, whose virtue is that if he eats it he will always tell the truth. Thomas protests that if he eats it, he will endanger himself–in bargaining with a merchant, in speaking with the King, or in conversation with a fair lady.
Robert Trammell ate that apple, and was a true poet. His life showed that with the bluntness and wildness of the gift of truth-telling comes a mysterious sweetness of sincerity that can civilize a city. The gentleness and creativity of Dallas’ current poetry scene is largely his doing.