Nikolay Glushko, Above The White Sea, 1974. Thank you, firsttimeuser.
Say you promise to be at your desk in the evenings from seven to nine. It waits, It watches. If you are reliably there, it begins to show itself - soon it begins to arrive when you do. But if you are only there sometimes and are frequently late or inattentive, it will appear fleetingly or it will not appear at all.
Why should it? It can wait. It can stay silent a lifetime.
–Mary Oliver, from A Poetry Handbook
Thank you, poetbabble.
If you know what you are going to write when you’re writing a poem, it’s going to be average. Creating a poem is a continual process of re-creating your ignorance, in the sense of not knowing what’s coming next. A lot of poets historically have described a kind of trance. It’s not like a Vedic trance where your eyes cross, and you float. It’s a process not of knowing, but of unknowing, of learning again. The next word or phrase that’s written has to feel as if it’s being written for the first time, that you are discovering the meaning of the word as you put it down.
Have you considered the possibility
that everything you believe is wrong,
not merely off a bit, but totally wrong,
nothing like things as they really are?
If you’ve done this, you know how durably fragile
those phantoms we hold in our heads are,
those wisps of thought that people die and kill for,
betray lovers for, give up lifelong friendships for.
If you’ve not done this, you probably don’t understand this poem,
or think it’s not even a poem, but a bit of opaque nonsense,
occupying too much of your day’s time,
so you probably should stop reading it here, now.
But if you’ve arrived at this line,
maybe, just maybe, you’re open to that possibility,
the possibility of being absolutely completely wrong,
about everything that matters.
How different the world seems then:
everyone who was your enemy is your friend,
everything you hated, you now love,
and everything you love slips through your fingers like sand.
–Federico Moramarco, by way of Whiskey River.
I can’t really remember the days. The light of the sun blurred and annihilated all color. But the nights, I remember them. The blue was more distant than the sky, beyond all depths, covering the bounds of the world. The sky, for me, was the stretch of pure brilliance crossing the blue, that cold coalescence beyond all color […] The light fell from the sky in cataracts of pure transparency, in torrents of silence and immobility. The air was blue, you could hold it in your hand. Blue. The sky was the continual throbbing of the brilliance of the light. The night lit up everything, all the country on either bank of the river as far as the eye could reach. Every night was different, each one had a name as long as it lasted. Their sound was that of the dogs, the country dogs baying at mystery. They answered one another from village to village, until the time and space of the night were utterly consumed.
“I wish I could say everything there is to say in one word. I hate all the things that can happen between the beginning of a sentence and the end.”
–Leonard Cohen, seen above on the terrace of his house on the Greek island of Hydra.