The Early Years: Before 1972
Everybody starts writing somewhere and somewhen. It is all relative. This Friday it will be Pearl Harbor Day and Mercury will go direct so it is a good time to review past projects before moving into new ones. None of the poems that I wrote before 1972 were any good, but like in everything, there are no mistakes, only lessons.
Teachers pointed haikus at me in grade school, and I wrote many. But the form never worked well for me in English. In poetry class I think I even dared to string 5 haikus together as stanzas for a poem called “Bushido”. It is someplace in the collected works.
Before I was 18, the only poets I recognized were Ogden Nash, maybe Robert Frost. I do not believe anybody tossed Shakespeare’s sonnets my way until college. There was a lot of fantasy reading when I was younger so there was influence there. My brain was not well marinated in emotion yet to achieve an understanding of powerful emotion in moments of tranquility. That was something mentioned in the preface to Lyric Ballads. There was a difference between poetry and prose, poetry had to rhyme back then, and I had no grasp of common language.
I have been going through old materials and am getting all my writings in some format for the web. I guess I am adding these early poems as a lesson for myself and others. Writing can be improved if you are dogged enough at it. It is a hard lesson to learn that you have to edit yourself as well as your writing. William Blake pointed that out in the Proverbs of Hell, “A fool who persists in his folly will soon become wise.”
There is a later poem I wrote called “Vase”. It is as good an explanation of how I learned to write, one piece at a time after many broken things. Maybe it is how all cognitive process works, one piece at a time and then fitting all the pieces together to see something bigger.
You also have to learn to laugh at yourself.
The comet flies through space and time,
forever exiled from its kind,
for if it stops to cast a smile,
its fiery body is spread for miles.
The spell is woven tightly round,
and down means up and up means down.
It is not magic; it is but life.
Although it’s simple, it’s never concise.
Tick, tick time sighs,
wind does fly.
Mountains rise, spiders cry,
and all men die.