08 May 2013


Pictures, by that I mean photographs, are an unconscious desperation...one creates monuments to the self that will be erased by time.  That is, the self will be erased, and the photograph will lose its intended meaning.  Look at me alive!

What is a poem if not something like that?  But I think we'd agree that the poem is more than the snapshot of a passing existence.  It is an attempt to put into a structure a kind of vitality, to create a "living" monument rather than a frozen one.  That is, to make a thing that will not lose its meaning after the self is erased.

Poems, unless it is their sentimental intention (Donald Hall's book about his wife's dying for example), don't make me sad or happy emotionally, they don't make me feel.  Rather they are a connection with intelligence and they engage my intelligence and in this way they can elide time--perhaps erase the very fact of time.  A Sappho fragment is a lost poem and the modern attempt to reconstruct what was lost, and the life of one woman, seems a human desperation.  Look, she was alive!  She is like us!  We have rescued her from the abyss of time's erasure.

...but the fragment itself vibrates with connection to me NOW--the everlasting present--she has saved herself in her creative act.

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