Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Struggling to Write Poetry

To Meredith of For Keats' Sake, in Grad School

(Made by Dr. Thursday February 3, 2010. I hope this helps. I've been too busy for poems for too long, and it felt good to prescribe such a remedy. --Dr. T.)

"I have no idea where they came from, but I remember those startling inner weathers; the haze of meter that crept around things and turned the moon into a drum and the wine glass into an organ pipe; those urgent voices. I was spoiled, I guess; and if this “inspiration” was so important, why was it wasted on juvenilia? Sounds suspiciously like adolescent vapors to me. Except that I remember feeling it for the first time when I was nine, and it followed me faithfully through my first year at college. Now it’s over. Instead of being driven to scribbling by eerie, Apollonian compulsion, I am sitting down and saying, “Now I will write a sonnet. A Petrarchan sonnet. About… something.” I have been going on like this for two or three years now, and even though I get little zaps of muse every once in a great while, it’s hard to make myself care. I think it’s telling me to shake things up and do things differently; and I’m confident now that it will show me something new once I’ve slogged away on my own for awhile."
--Meredith, Jan 31, 2010

"He did no work lately; sometimes sat and stared at a blank sheet of paper as if he had no ideas."
"Or as if he had too many," said Gabriel Gale.
-- GKC "The Purple Jewel" in The Poet and the Lunatics

One of the first problems to be faced at Niagara was how to get a wire over the gorge and its violent river. Ellet solved that nicely by offering five dollars to the first American boy to fly a kite over to the Canadian side. The prize was won by young Homer Walsh, who would tell the story for the rest of his days.
[John McCullough, The Great Bridge 76]

"Your guardian angel whispers a line to you, then challenges you to finish it."
-- a dear friend, Dr. Ruth Stickney, on how poetry is written (personal communication)

"keep poetry as a moment of peace"
-- Sheila of Enchiridion, Sept 10 2007

A poet, fruitless, chilled in winter's blight,
Her footless, rhymeless words in deepest freeze:
Her pen in hand a sonnet she would write -
A hockey goalie wearing alpine skiis,
Defenceless from the pucks that sting like bees.
But soon Sol shall spring from her austral den
The verbal glaciers melt in Paschal breeze -
The world will still be there beyond your pen.

A poet, lampless, lost in starless night,
She cannot see the verses for the trees;
Lost on that Logos way, lost not her sight,
From Dante's beasts on ev'ry side she flees,
To live, to write - in ordered, just decrees.
Your road you'll see soon, like that crossing hen,
For dawn was made to light nights such as these!
The world will still be there beyond your pen.

A poet, pathless, weighed down from her flight
Falls down in wordless prayer upon her knees:
A chasm bridged by Walsh's feeble kite,
A light-speed net unplagued by user fees,
Frail sail, yet crossing interstellar seas:
Per quem omnia: stones, beasts, stars and men,
The Spirit whispers, now her heart agrees...
The world will still be there beyond your pen.

Oh Meredith, drink wine or nibble cheese!
That rhyming time of peace shall come again;
In God's good time He will unlock your keys;
The world will still be there beyond your pen.


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