There has been in our time a lack of reliance on language and a lack of experimentation which are frightening to anyone who sees them as symptoms. We know the phenomenon of stage-fright: it holds the player shivering, incapable of speech or action. Perhaps there is an audience-fright which the play can feel, which leaves him with these incapacities.
In time of crisis, we summon up our strength. Then, if we are lucky, we are able to call every resource, every forgotten image that can leap to our quickening, every memory that can make us know our power. And this luck is more than it seems to be: it depends on the long preparation of the self to be used.
American poetry has been part of a culture in conflict....We are a people tending toward democracy at the level of hope; at another level, the economy of the nation, the empire of business within the republic, both include in their basic premise the idea of perpetual warfare
How can I look back and not speak of the stupid learning about birth? Of the stupid learning that people make love, and how it seemed the reason for all things, the intimacy of my wondering, the illumination that to an adolescent was the cause for life around me, the reason why the unhappy people I knew did not kill themselves?
Everywhere we are told that our human resources are all to be used, that our civilization itself means the uses of everything it has--the inventions, the histories, every scrap of fact. But there is one kind of knowledge--infinitely precious, time- resistant more than monuments, here to be passed between the generations in any way it may be: never to be used. And that is poetry.
The 'idea' for the poem, which may come as an image thrown against memory, as a sound of words that sets off a traveling of sound and meaning, as a curve of emotion (a form) plotted by certain crises of events or image or sound, or as a title which evokes a sense of inner relations; this is the first 'surfacing' of the poem. Then a period of stillness may follow.
The statement of ideas in a poem may have to do with logic . More profoundly, it may be identified with the emotional progression of the poem, in terms of the music and images, so that the poem is alive throughout. Another, more fundamental statement in poetry, is made through the images themselves those declarations, evocative, exact, and musical, which move through time and are the actions of a poem.