Do you know the story of the first poet in the English language?
It's a lovely story told in Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People, maybe a factually correct story and maybe not, but certainly true in the sense we are talking about. Caedmon was an illiterate cowherd who worked at a monastery. In the evening in the refectory, when the monks and workers sat down to supper, they would pass a stringed instrument, a harp that was a kind of precursor to the guitar, around the table. And everybody would pluck a few chords and sing or recite some verses. And, seeing the harp coming his way, Caedmon would always sneak off, tiptoeing out to the barn where he slept in the hay with the farm animals all around. Caedmon was all thumbs when it came to playing the harp, and he didn't know any verses.
One night he was sound asleep in the barn when an angel appeared out of the cloudy nowhere angels come from and woke him. Caedmon was dazed in humility and awe and fear.
"Caedmon," the angel said. "Sing for me."
As politely as possible, Caedmon reminded the angel of what the supernatural being must already know-that he couldn't sing a note and didn't know any verses and that was why he was here, alone in the barn, while the supper's evening festivities were still going on.
The angel wasn't having any. "Nevertheless you will sing for me." "What shall I sing?"
"Sing me the story of the Creation."
And, as if by miracle, words came into Caedmon's head and he sang (or recited) a little poem about the creation of the world. Look it up sometime, the earliest known poem in the English language, therefore the earliest official poet in the English language.
Garrett, George. “Going to See the Elephant: Our Duty as Storytellers.” Creating Fiction. (Cincinnati: Story Press, 1999), 3.