Rescind your tortured sentences; let words
escape like AWOL soldiers past the fence,
like sullen rocks that would grow wings like birds
and fly out into fresh experience.
Rethink your injured poems; let each line
cascade in a cacophony of sound
where all the images you dare define
in simple rhythm’s ancient tongues resound.
Don’t cast your works in broken, fragile stone;
they will not last beyond the dusting brush.
Instead, seek for the essence that alone
reduces recent shouts and cheers in hush.
The modern lasts no more than single days;
its history a palimpsest of mist.
If you would build a temple worth more praise,
you must do more than exercise the wrists.
What vision can withstand the critic’s bile
unless the artist draws it from within?
What good to end up in some dusty file
where fickle fancy’s fads end and begin?
Let no one else restrict the words you choose,
nor help you seek the spirit of the age;
If you would seek to please others, refuse
to put another letter on the page.
24 APR 2005