14 March 2012

"And Miles To Go Before I..."

Lined blank paper sets my fingers itching and causes the nerves in my shoulders and arms and chest to seize up.

I just saw one sheet lying open and empty on a bed.


It needs to be filled! (Do I sound OCD?)

But I have editing to do
And books to study, meals to make,
Rooms to clean, and other tasks
The world requires of me to keep 
Its daily axis undisturbed.

A million more excuses I
Could conjure from my flitting thoughts
That would explain away the fact
That I don't write because I lack
The inspiration, diligence,
And superhuman lack of fear
That what I'd write would be a waste
Of time and brains and energy.

The muse is in the empty page,
And muddling human strokes deform
The perfect portrait painted there
By the vision of the mind.

Invisible it must remain
If human hand won't take the pen
And be the translator from dream
To language humans understand.

But...

The process, turning thought to words,
Of retracing its lineaments
In symbols both concrete and true,
Is choppy, fitful, harried, crude,
And seems a mockery of that
Which the disgruntled artist saw
So clearly when invisible.

Cloud castles have no drafts to fix,
Mistakes to mend or holes to fill.
But he who would have substance there
Must raise his hand and substance make.

The shoddy blueprint must be risked,
As well the faulty substructure,
The warping boards, the cracking bricks,
The slanted walls and sagging roof...
That's just the nature of the beast:
Between dimensions there are no
Barrierless, seamless ways.
Even Olympians had to change
Their form when traveling between worlds.

But...

"The gods help those who help themselves."

Then...

The effort made is not a waste.
But first the effort must be made
Before the muses intervene
And lend their hands to prompt our own.

And thus the walls and roof become
More sturdy with each tearing down,
Until at last the structure's right.
And even if it's only now
A modest cottage rather than
The glorious edifice first thought,
It's finished, tight and operative,
And owns our Self in every inch.
And from the skills we have acquired
In sticking to its fashioning,
Regardless of the sorry state
In which it first began,
We stand enabled to create
A statelier rendition when
The next cloud vision comes along.

It takes a whole other level of intelligence to manage both meter and rhyme in the same poem. My hat off to Robert Frost.

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