I’m filled with this longing—again—to be taken up with writing and reading poetry. It will pass, a momentary urge. But where does this urge come from? To be known? Who knows poets but other poets? And it seems unlikely that I’d find publication when I haven’t put the time in. I haven’t read, I haven’t written in years. But that can all change. And let’s say I stop chasing an ideal and just start working at it. What might that get me?
Why do I want to write? To see what is excreted from my body? The same reason, really, that I want to play music and make furniture—I want to be engaged in something that is fulfilling in itself, something that is not merely allowing time to pass unmarked as I step ever closer to the end of all steps. I want to engage in something of beauty. There’s the seeking of leaving a permanent mark, but let’s not kid ourselves—nothing is worth doing if it isn’t worth doing in this life, for this life, or for the life of others.
At one time I was in love with the idea of the church calendar, because it marked time and drew our individual, unremarkable lives into a pattern, and a pattern shared by others. I have wanted to memorize poetry for the same reasons, but as far as I got was memorizing two Osip Mandelshtam poems, and nothing else. They are not there for my recall now, but I will admit, they have been present to my thought, shaped memory. They, even though I have neglected them, are still filling my consciousness beyond the immediate circumstances of any forgettable day, and they cause me to reflect from time to time on the man and his struggling life and how his wife memorized his verse lest it be destroyed by the Stalinist regime.