Robert Creeley

March 5, 2007

 robert_creeley.jpg
(1926-2005)

Lost his father and use of his left eye at five years old
Entered Harvard University but left to join the American Field Service in India and Burma
Took drugs to escape from boredom
Came back to Harvard
Lived on Cape Cod with his wifeJoined the faculty of Black Mountain College, founded and edited the Black Mountain Review
Marriage collapsed, left Black Mountain
Became associated with Beat poetry
Married again, received an M.A. from University of New Mexico
taught on coffee plantation in Guatemala
New York State poet from 1989-1991
Poetry is immediately likable: no interest in pompous or oracular utterance and offers instantaneous intimacy
Belongs to Black Mountain school of Charles Olson
Rejects traditional meters and rhymes, develops his own rhythms
Most famous statement on aesthetics:

“Form is never more than an extension of content.”

Quotations:

As I sd to my / friend, because I am / always talking, -John, I
sd, which was not his / name, the darkness sur- / rounds us, what
can we do against / it, or else, shall we & / why not, buy a goddamn big car,
drive, he sd, for / christ’s sake, look / out where yr going.

-I Know a Man (in whole)

Yesterday I wanted to / speak of it, that sense above / the others to me / important because all
that I know derives / from what it teaches me. / Today, what is it that / is finally so helpless,
different, despairs of its own / statement, wants to / turn away, endlessly / to turn away.
If the moon did not … / no, if you did not / I wouldn’t either, but / what would I not
do, what prevention, what / thing so quickly stopped. / That is love yesterday / or tomorrow, not
now. Can I eat / what you give me. I / have not earned it. Must / I think of everything
as earned. Now love also / becomes a reward so / remote from me I have / only  made it with my mind.
Here is tedium, / despair, a painful / sense of isolation and / whimsical if pompous
self-regard. But that image / is only of the mind’s / vague structure, vague to me / because it is my own.
Love, what do I think / to say. I cannot say it. / What have you become to ask, / what have I made you into,
companion, good company, / crossed legs with skirt, or / soft body under / the bones of the bed.
Nothing says anything / but that which it wishes / would come true, fears / what else might happen in
someother place, some / other time not this one. / A voice in my place, an / echo of that only in yours.
Let me stumble into / not the confession but / the obsession I begin with / not. For you
also (also) / some time beyond place, or / place beyond time, no / mind left to
say anything at all, / that face gone, now. / Into the company of love / it all returns.

-For Love (in whole)

Dedicated to his second wife, Bobbie Hoeck

It is hard going to the door / cut so small in the wall where / the vision which echoes loneliness / brings a scent of wild flowers in the wood.
What I understood, I understand. / My mind is sometime torment, / sometimes good and filled with livelihood, / and feels the ground.
But I see the door, / and Knew the wall, and wanted the wood, / and would get there if I could / with my feet and hands and mind.
Lady, do not banish me / for digressions. My nature / is a quagmire of unresolved / confessions. Lady, I follow.
I walked away from myself, / I left the room, I found the garden, / I knew the woman / in it, together we lay down.
Dead night remembers. In December / we change, not multiplied but dispersed, / sneaked out of childhood, / the ritual of dismemberment.
Mighty magic is a mother, / in her there is another issue / of fixture, repeated form, the race renewal, / the charge of the command.
The garden echoes across the room. / It is fixed in the wall like a mirror / that faces a window behind you / and reflects the shadows.
May I go now? / Am I allowed to bow myself down / in the ridiculous posture of renewal, / of the instance of which I am the virtue?
nothing for You is untoward. / Inside You would also be tall, / more tall, more beautiful. / Come toward me from the wall, I want to be with You.
So I screamed to You, / who hears as the wind, and changes / multiply, invariably, / changes in the mind.
Running to the door, I rand down / as a clock runs down. Walked backwards, / stumbled, sat down / hard on the floor near the wall.
Where were You. / How absurd, how vicious. / There is nothing to do but get up. / My knees were iron, I rusted in worship, of You.
For that one sings, one / writes the spring poems, one goes on walking. / The Lady has always moved to the next town / and you stumble on after Her.
The door in the wall leads to the garden / where in the sunlight sit / the Graces in long Victorian dresses, / of which my grandmother had spoken.
History sings in their faces. / They are young, they are obtainable, / and you follow after them also / in the service of God and Truth.
But the Lady is indefinable, / she will be the door in the wall / to the garden in sunlight. / I will go on talking forever.
I will never get there. / Oh Lady, remember me / who in Your service grows older / not wiser, no more than before.
How can I die alone. / Where will I be then who am now alone, / what groans so pathetically / in this room where I am alone?
I will go to the garden. / I will be a romantic. I will sell / myself in hell, / in heaven also I will be.
In my mind I see the door, / I see the sunlight before me across the floor / beckon to me, as the Lady’s skirt / moves small beyond it.

-The Door (in whole)

for Robert Duncan

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