Thursday, May 08, 2014


JH: A fragment speaks for itself. What, then, does the indicated missing text do? A poem can stand apart from historical context, biographical data, drafts, and commentary. Can a poem stand apart from itself? When it is a fragment, it can (and, one could also say, when it is a translation). What about a series? What if we had only one or two of Rilke's Orpheus sonnets, or only a few of the poems in Leaves of Grass? For that matter, what if we are missing -- and I'm sure that we are -- one or two sonnets that Rilke could have included in The Sonnets to Orpheus, or a few poems that Whitman could have included in Leaves of Grass?

There are 16 of my Actaeon poems that I would want preserved in a totality. These 16 Actaeon poems would be in a particular order. The rest of my Actaeon poems (I've written about 100) would not be practicable for this ideal book, though I have no problem with them individually.

AHB: I've always disliked anthologies that offer extracts from larger works. I guess the willful loss bothers me. It find it difficult to read a fragment as itself when one knows there is more. Yet each word has a life and conviction; each exists in totality beyond any fragment's existence. And yet, I imagine any lost Rilke Sonnet nonetheless influences those that we have. That is, Rilke's making of those lost poems created the possibility of the ones that followed.

I am thoroughly surprised that you would/could boil down the 100 to a mere 16. Is this a matter of winnowing and sifting, or did you always have a track in mind that the 16 fulfilled?


Post a Comment

<< Home