Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Epilogue by Robert Lowell

Someone sent me a line from this poem a few years ago: "All’s misalliance. Yet why not say what happened?" I randomly came across the email today and read the poem again. It sums up some of my aspirations, and anxieties, about writing.

by Robert Lowell

Those blessèd structures, plot and rhyme—
why are they no help to me now
I want to make
something imagined, not recalled?
I hear the noise of my own voice:
The painter’s vision is not a lens,
it trembles to caress the light.

But sometimes everything I write
with the threadbare art of my eye
seems a snapshot,
lurid, rapid, garish, grouped,
heightened from life,
yet paralyzed by fact.
All’s misalliance.
Yet why not say what happened?
Pray for the grace of accuracy
Vermeer gave to the sun’s illumination
stealing like the tide across a map
to his girl solid with yearning.
We are poor passing facts,
warned by that to give
each figure in the photograph
his living name.

Robert Lowell, “Epilogue” from Day by Day. Copyright © 1977 by Robert Lowell.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent opener to what will be, I am sure, an excellent chronicle both ethereal and concrete.