A few nights ago, near to midnight, I wrote a poem and felt again how strange it was to do so. I haven’t written much poetry lately, though I wish that wasn’t the case. I used to write it all the time, lines popping into my head, demanding to be written, or a phrase turning over and slowly pulling images out of me. It seems like they are rare wonders now.
I thought as life progressed that I would be writing them more and more often, as life experience increased and I grew into whatever it was I was supposed to become. But life just seemed to get busy, rather than being the fullness or fruition that I had in mind as a child.
It’s strange, sometimes, the paths that lead us to who we become.
Writing poetry, for me, is a quiet craft. It feels like an immersion into my innermost self, where I must learn to discern the echoes of my emotions and thoughts and distill them into their purest essence. This sounds rather grand, and I do not claim that my poems always reach their highest potential. What is important is that I write them, when I can, and how I can. They deserve their lives, however small, however brief.
Here is the poem I wrote that night:
A poem moves along the curve of her spine,
Yawning and bowing in soft undulations,
Crisp along the ridge.
She carries a masterwork in her bones,
Contained in the latticework of her frame.
Her skin stretches to hold in the meaning;
Her eyes filled with sad knowledges,
Organs fill to bursting with passions,
And veins flow hot with more than blood.
Can she stop the brain from burning?
Sweet, searing pain of being consumed.
In the course of my very scattered reading, I have recently discovered Rilke. I had heard of him vaguely before, but never read, to my knowledge, any of his poetry. What little I have read now, I have found beautiful. I’ll probably write more about certain pieces later.
In my small amount of reading thus far, I read one of his Letters to a Young Poet and found a few lines I wanted to copy here. They seem to carry along the pattern of my thoughts.
Go within. Search for the cause, find the impetus that bids you write. Put it to this test: Does it stretch out its roots in the deepest place of your heart? Can you avow that you would die if you were forbidden to write? Above all, in the most silent hour of your night, ask yourself this: Must I write? Dig deep into yourself for a true answer. And if it should ring its assent, if you can confidently meet this serious question with a simple, “I must,” then build your life upon it. It has become your necessity. …A piece of art is good if it is born of necessity. …Go within and scale the depths of your being from which your very life springs forth. At its source you will find the answer to the question, whether you must write. Accept it, however it sounds to you, without analyzing. Perhaps it will become apparent to you that you are indeed called to be a writer. Then accept that fate; bear its burden, and its grandeur, without asking for the reward…
For the creative artist must be a world of his own…
~Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903
Full text can be found here: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/23355
I hope that I will write more poems and continue to find inspiration in the world around me, the words of poets and the work of artists long gone, and also somewhere deep within myself. Because, at the end of it all… I must write.