April 3, 2013

NPM 2013 - C is for Creeley

I briefly considered posting poems by Billy Collins today since his poems are known to be very "accessible". But to me, accessibility, while good, is not a keystone for good poetry. So, I'll post poems today by a poet whose poems are sometimes accessible, sometimes not... but they always make me want to read more. For the last many years now I have been bringing the local public library copy of Collected Poems (1945-1975) by Robert Creeley and peruse through it for a couple weeks before I have to return it. (There's another more recent book of Collected Poems (1975-2005) that I haven't even gotten to!) 

Robert Creeley
(Picture from UPenn's amazing PennSound website.)

Creeley is one of two poets whose short lines and line breaks are always intriguing; the other such poet being the recent US poet laureate, Kay Ryan. In his interview with Paris Review in 1968, Creeley talks about how "prose seems to offer more variety in ways of approaching experience. It's more leisurely. One can experiment while en route, so to speak. But still, for me, poetry gives a more immediate, a more concentrated articulation—a finer way of speaking." His poetry is concentrated articulation, indeed! Just see the magic he weaves with a few words; eliminating everything that is not essential - so much weight in such terseness.

Water Music
by Robert Creeley   

The words are a beautiful music.
The words bounce like in water.

Water music,
loud in the clearing

off the boats,
birds, leaves.

They look for a place
to sit and eat—

no meaning,
no point.

Here's another lovely poem by him about love. (More about this poem here.)

For Love
by Robert Creeley    
for Bobbie

Yesterday I wanted to
speak of it, that sense above   
the others to me
important because all

that I know derives
from what it teaches me.   
Today, what is it that   
is finally so helpless,

different, despairs of its own   
statement, wants to
turn away, endlessly
to turn away.

If the moon did not ...
no, if you did not
I wouldn’t either, but   
what would I not

do, what prevention, what   
thing so quickly stopped.   
That is love yesterday   
or tomorrow, not

now. Can I eat
what you give me. I
have not earned it. Must   
I think of everything

as earned. Now love also   
becomes a reward so
remote from me I have
only made it with my mind.

Here is tedium,
despair, a painful
sense of isolation and   
whimsical if pompous

self-regard. But that image   
is only of the mind’s
vague structure, vague to me   
because it is my own.

Love, what do I think
to say. I cannot say it.
What have you become to ask,   
what have I made you into,

companion, good company,   
crossed legs with skirt, or   
soft body under
the bones of the bed.

Nothing says anything   
but that which it wishes   
would come true, fears   
what else might happen in

some other place, some   
other time not this one.   
A voice in my place, an   
echo of that only in yours.

Let me stumble into
not the confession but   
the obsession I begin with   
now. For you

also (also)
some time beyond place, or   
place beyond time, no   
mind left to

say anything at all,
that face gone, now.
Into the company of love   
it all returns.

I had hoped to put just 2 poems by a poet every day but every now and then I'll make an exception. Today is one of those days. Here's one of my favorite Creeley poems.

The Rain
by Robert Creeley

All night the sound had
come back again,
and again falls
this quiet, persistent rain.

What am I to myself
that must be remembered,
insisted upon
so often? Is it,

that never the ease,
even the hardness,
of rain falling
will have for me

something other than this,
something not so insistent --
am I to be locked in this
final uneasiness.

Love, if you love me,
lie next to me.
Be for me, like rain,
the getting out

of the tiredness, the fatuousness, the semi-
lust of intentional indifference.
Be wet
with a decent happiness.

If you are interested in reading more, there are a few other excerpts from Creeley's poems that I have compiled at my Tumblr blog, which I had maintained for about a year in 2010-2011.

Also, you can read my post on Creeley from 2011 when I was last celebrating National Poetry Month with a post each day.

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