January 27, 2008KR BlogUncategorized

Finding the Form

Denise Levertov‘s Question: Is there inherent form that the poet can discover and reveal?

This is us, in each moment at the paper, fretting over what it should be and will do in the world. We might say,

Dear Poem. I have had a synergetic moment. The rain falls from the roof and down to the ground like fringe on a flapper dress. In the spaces between each dance, leaves grow on branches down toward the ground, which is covered in rotted leaves from the days without rain. In this room, my feet are too cold, and the space heater hums. See on that postcard, the haystacks in the fields of rainbowed grass? Where, poem, should I begin? With what word or phrase–and how, then, to lay you all out onto the paper so that these not-yet-fully-formed emotions are transformed?


“Form is never more than the revelation of content.”–Levertov

Content transformed to what? This cold makes me think of winter. It rains here in winter. The people rush at the slightest sprinkle, and I am left to contemplate the cold–and this lovely hat my sister knitted for me for Christmas, which doesn’t match the scarf because she ran out of the yarn half-way through the project.

Running out of yarn half-way through.
Content is exploratory, got at through the process of
pulsing along the vein; discovering
the form that wants to
be the poem.

If we are to base form on an ‘intuition’ of order, are we discovering what it is–the poem–supposed to do and how to be in the world? Is this what is called an absence of form, or is it the finding of your authentic vision?

Constellations. Concentration on constellations can be dangerous. But what is more beautiful? What brings more mythology to light than the constellation, with its gods and goddesses, and the big spoons for holding the magic of the cosmos and ready to ladle it into soup bowls.Constellations retain their forms, but move about in the sky and are wholly dependent upon the temple from which one views each constellation. ‘Recognize what we percieve.’

So the poet stands openmouthed in the temple of life, contemplating his experience, there come to him the first words of the poem.“–Levertov

Dear poem, I have meditated. I have stood, openmouthed, in the temple of life, contemplating my experience. The words did not come, so I have left you for a while to make a plate of gnocchi with rich tomato sauce. It was lovely and delicious. I fed some to my lover while he took a bath, and I read him a line I thought could be the first line of something that could become you. The rain has stopped, and I think less now of the haystacks, and more of mortality, and how quickly everything moves away from me–from all of us– no matter how hard we try to reach it.

Constellations. Synergy. Convergence. The intersection of X and Y equals discoveryonly in the work, not before it.Not before the words. To grasp inherent form is to have–for just this moment–the belief that something is right, and good, and in its proper place. To grasp form is comfortable; move things along to their proper place; fit each piece together nice and tight; make the picture you felt when that constellation equalled clarity.

Connect the stars.
Is the process of discovery and revelation what moves us beyond form? Does form matter?

Poem, friend, I am a sloppy and lazy poet. Many have said so. I wonder if you want to be sloppy and lazy too, or if I have turned myself off too soon to experiencing you. The rain has started again. It’s really coming down out there.

“Where form fails, feeling fails.”–Robert Duncan

Or:

The law–one perception must immediately and directly lead to a further perception.”–Edward Dahlberg

And if that isn’t what is to be, then this:

Sweet poem, friend, finding you is ecstasy.