Sunday, February 28, 2021

Poetry was not in the order of things.

"When I first decided to be a poet... this itself was a disordering of the world and its orders in which I had been raised. My father had been an architect and, until he died, when I was sixteen, I had been preparing to enter that world. Ideas of architecture still continue in my art today as a poet, but my conversion to Poetry was experienced by myself and by those about me as my being at war with every hope the world before had had of me. Poetry was not in the order of things." 

—  Robert Duncan, "Man's Fulfillment in Order and Strife" in Fictive Certainties [1955] (New Directions, 1985) p112. 


Duncan's first collection "The Opening of the Field" (New Directions, 1960), begins with what is arguably his most famous poem:


Often I am Permitted to Return to a Meadow
as if it were a scene made-up by the mind,
that is not mine, but is a made-place,
that is mine, it is so near to the heart,
an eternal pasture folded in all thought
so that there is a hall therein
that is a made place, created by light
wherefrom the shadows that are forms fall.
Wherefrom fall all architectures I am