Ars Poetica IX (You must seek your central rhythm in order to find out who you are)

I dream of an art so transparent that you can look through and see the world.

 

From “Reflections” by Stanley Kunitz:

Years ago I came to the realization that the most poignant of all lyric tensions stems from the awareness that we are living & dying at once. To embrace such knowledge and yet to remain compassionate and whole—that is the consummation of the endeavour of art.

Poems would be easy if our heads weren’t so full of the day’s clatter. The task is to get through to the other side, where we can hear the deep rhythms that connect us with the stars and the tides. 

I keep trying to improve my controls over language, so that I won’t have to tell lies. And I keep reading the masters, because they infect me with human possibility.

Sometimes I feel ashamed that I’ve written so few poems on political themes, on the causes that agitate me. But then I remind myself that to choose to live as a poet in the modern superstate is in itself a political action.


At the age of 95, Stanley Kunitz (1905-2006) became the oldest person ever to serve as Poet Laureate of the United States. One of the finest American poets of the Twentieth Century, Kunitz produced only 12 books in more than 70 years, but the quality of his work remained consistent. Kunitz has earned many awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, and Bollingen Prize in Poetry.


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