It is precisely the sort of thing I am always trying to do in my writing - to present my unhappy reader with a wide-ranged chaos - of actions and reactions, thoughts, memories and feelings - in the vain hope that at the end he will see that the whole thing represents only one moment, one feeling, one person. A raging, trumpeting jungle of associations, and then I announce at the end of it, with a gesture of despair, 'This is I!
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And the mist of snow, as he had foreseen, was still on it - a ghost of snow falling in the bright sunlight, softly and steadily floating and turning and pausing, soundlessly meeting the snow that covered, as with a transparent mirage, the bare bright cobbles. He loved it - he stood still and loved it. Its beauty was paralyzing - beyond all words, all experience, all dream. No fairy-story he had ever read could be compared with it - none had ever given him this extraordinary combination of ethereal loveliness with a something else, unnameable, which was just faintly and deliciously terrifying. ("Silent Snow, Secret Snow")
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It was gentler here, softer, its seethe the quietest of whispers, as if, in deference to a drawing room, it had quite deliberately put on its 'manners'; it kept itself out of sight, obliterated itself, but distinctly with an air of saying, 'Ah, but just wait! Wait till we are alone together! Then I will begin to tell you something new! Something white! something cold! something sleepy! something of cease, and peace, and the long bright curve of space! Tell them to go away. Banish them. Refuse to speak. Leave them, go upstairs to your room, turn out the light and get into bed - I will go with you, I will be waiting for you, I will tell you a better story than Little Kay of the Skates, or The Snow Ghost - I will surround your bed, I will close the windows, pile a deep drift against the door, so that none will ever again be able to enter. Speak to them!... ' It seemed as if the little hissing voice came from a slow white spiral of falling flakes in the corner by the front window - but he could not be sure. ("Silent Snow, Secret Snow")
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Just why it should have happened, or why it should have happened just when it did, he could not, of course, possibly have said; nor perhaps could it even have occurred to him to ask. The thing was above all a secret, something to be preciously concealed from Mother and Father; and to that very fact it owed an enormous part of its deliciousness. It was like a peculiarly beautiful trinket to be carried unmentioned in one's trouser-pocket - a rare stamp, an old coin, a few tiny gold links found trodden out of shape on the path in the park, a pebble of carnelian, a sea shell distinguishable from all others by an unusual spot or stripe-and, as if it were anyone of these, he carried around with him everywhere a warm and persistent and increasingly beautiful sense of possession. Nor was it only a sense of possession - it was also a sense of protection. It was as if, in some delightful way, his secret gave him a fortress, a wall behind which he could retreat into heavenly seclusion. ("Silent Snow, Secret Snow")
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I compelled myself all through to write an exercise in verse, in a different form, every day of the year. I turned out my page every day, of some sort--I mean I didn't give a damn about the meaning, I just wanted to master the form--all the way from free verse, Walt Whitman, to the most elaborate of villanelles and ballad forms. Very good training. I've always told everybody who has ever come to me that I thought that was the first thing to do.
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Variations: II Green light, from the moon, Pours over the dark blue trees, Green light from the autumn moon Pours on the grass ... Green light falls on the goblin fountain Where hesitant lovers meet and pass. They laugh in the moonlight, touching hands, They move like leaves on the wind ... I remember an autumn night like this, And not so long ago, When other lovers were blown like leaves, Before the coming of snow.
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MUSIC I heard with you was more than music, And bread I broke with you was more than bread. Now that I am without you, all is desolate, All that was once so beautiful is dead. Your hands once touched this table and this silver,And I have seen your fingers hold this glass. These things do not remember you, beloved: And yet your touch upon them will not pass. For it was in my heart you moved among them,And blessed them with your hands and with your eyes.And in my heart they will remember always: They knew you once, O beautiful and wise!
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You know, without my telling you, how sometimes a word or name eludes you, and you seek it through running ghosts of shadow -- leaping at it, lying in wait for it to spring upon it, spreading faint snares for it of sense or sound: until, of a sudden, as if in a phantom forest, you hear it, see it flash among the branches, and scarcely knowing how, suddenly have it.
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It is moonlight. Alone in the silence I ascend my stairs once more, While waves remote in pale blue starlight Crash on a white sand shore. It is moonlight. The garden is silent. I stand in my room alone. Across my wall, from the far-off moon, A rain of fire is thrown. There are houses hanging above the stars, And stars hung under the sea, And a wind from the long blue vault of time Waves my curtains for me. I wait in the dark once more, swung between space and space: Before the mirror I lift my hands And face my remembered face.
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Schoolchildren all over America are told to write to authors-often to authors whom they have never before heard of, whose work they are to young to understand in the least, and often in letters which are almost illiterate. If children are to be taught to respect the work of American poets I think some better way might be found to do so- some way which would not make such an inconsiderate demand on the author's time.
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It is precisely the sort of thing I am always trying to do in my writing -- to present my unhappy reader with a wide-ranged chaos -- of actions and reactions, thoughts, memories and feelings -- in the vain hope that at the end he will see that the whole thing represents only one moment, one feeling, one person. A raging, trumpeting jungle of associations, and then I announce at the end of it, with a gesture of despair, "This is I!
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Oh, I've discarded a great many [poems]. And occasionally I've discarded and then resurrected. I would find a crumpled yellow ball of paper in the wastebasket, in the morning, and open it to see what the hell I'd been up to; and occasionally it was something that needed only a very slight change to be brought off, which I'd missed the day before.