Thursday, December 11, 2008


Or: I work at the language as a spring of water works at the rock, to find a course, and so, blindly. In this I am not a maker of things, but, if maker, a maker of a way. For the way in itself . It is well enuf to speak of water's having its destination in the sea, and so to picture almost a knowing in the course; but the sea is only the end of ways - could the stream find a further course, it would go on. And vast as the language is, it is no end but a resistance thru which a poem might move - as it flows or dances or puddles in time - making it up in its going along and yet going only as it breaks the resistance of the language.


I write this only to explain some of the old ache of longing that revives when I apprehend again the currents of language - rushing upon their way, or in pools, vacant energies below meaning, hidden to our purposes. Often, reading or writing, the fullest pain returns, and I see or hear or almost know a pure element of clearness, an utter movement, an absolute rush along its own way, that makes of even the words under my pen a foreign element that I may crave - as for kingdom or salvation or freedom - but never know.
- Robert Duncan, 'Source' from Letters [1953-56] (included in Selected Poems, New Direction 1997)

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