my own thoughted crumb,
what will you be?
seated, windowed, bound and papered
or full-sailed, wind-carried, faraway and
like the constant, bumping sea?
light in my window, ink
on my page, you are mine,
as I say this
I set you free
~ Ruth M.
Listen to a podcast of this poem here.
I was going to leave it there, this post. But I just read something by Robert Frost that echoes this small poem of mine. "Little One" could be about a poem, or a future grandchild. Which? Who knows, and that is the surprise of it. Which brings me to Frost.
In 1939, Frost wrote an essay about writing poems titled The Figure a Poem Makes. I hadn't read it before today, after finishing my small poem, above. I agree completely with his claim, that a poem must reveal itself, that you can't know at the outset of writing what it will become. You can read the entire essay The Figure a Poem Makes here. Below I will quote passages that resonated for me today:
quotes from The Figure a Poem Makes, by Robert Frost
~ If it is a wild tune, it is a poem. Our problem then is, as modern abstractionists, to have the wildness pure; to be wild with nothing to be wild about.
~ It begins in delight and ends in wisdom. The figure is the same as for love. No one can really hold that the ecstasy should be static and stand still in one place. It begins in delight, it inclines to the impulse, it assumes direction with the first line laid down, it runs a course of lucky events, and ends in a clarification of life-not necessarily a great clarification, such as sects and cults are founded on, but in a momentary stay against confusion. It has denouement. It has an outcome that though unforeseen was predestined from the first image of the original mood-and indeed from the very mood. It is but a trick poem and no poem at all if the best of it was thought of first and saved for the last. It finds its own name as it goes and discovers the best waiting for it in some final phrase at once wise and sad-the happy-sad blend of the drinking song.
~ No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.
~ The line will have the more charm for not being mechanically straight. We enjoy the straight crookedness of a good walking stick. Modern instruments of precision are being used to make things crooked as if by eye and hand in the old days.
~ I tell how there may be a better wildness of logic than of inconsequence. But the logic is backward, in retrospect, after the act. It must be more felt than seen ahead like prophecy. It must be a revelation, or a series of revelations, as much for the poet as for the reader.
~ Scholars and artists thrown together are often annoyed at the puzzle of where they differ. Both work from knowledge; but I suspect they differ most importantly in the way their knowledge is come by. Scholars get theirs with conscientious thoroughness along projected lines of logic; poets theirs cavalierly and as it happens in and out of books.
~ For myself the originality need be no more than the freshness of a poem run in the way I have described: from delight to wisdom. The figure is the same as for love. Like a piece of ice on a hot stove the poem must ride on its own melting. A poem may be worked over once it is in being, but may not be worried into being. Its most precious quality will remain its having run itself and carried away the poet with it. Read it a hundred times: it will forever keep its freshness as a petal keeps its fragrance. It can never lose its sense of a meaning that once unfolded by surprise as it went.
Painting: Clouds and Water, by Arthur Dove