Dan Beachy-Quick
A January Notebook                          (page 8)


Speak to me. The ancient lyric plea unable to be distinguished from a command.

Speak to me / & make me whole

The poet demands a voice but does so in a voice, a voice that is her own. The poet asks for a voice to come near and speak to me, but to do so, the voice that is the poet’s must depart. It is only in that departure that the other voice arrives.


Stein: “She always was, she always is, tormented by the problem of the external and the internal.”

Poetry uses a word so that it troubles the boundary between within and without, disloyal border guard, insisting on trespass.

* * *

Reading Levinas, early morning, baby playing on the floor. The infinite that leaves only a trace, and not a trace by which we can return it to us; a trace that demands we enter into presence as ourselves, not an essence, but a me that is me, and so is responsible for another. Looking down and seeing the baby has crawled away. Find her trying to eat the cat food.


Keats, yes: “That which is creative must create itself.” How humble myself enough to write the poem as it must be written? Wittgenstein on the philosopher’s work: “to dismantle the edifice of our pride.” A poem that is creative, which creates itself, dismantles the edifice of my pride. We are not “better” for doing this work. Nor is it a thing to be proud of, this being a poet. What matters is that the poem gets written; it does not matter if I write it. You cannot humble yourself yourself. You must be humbled. Keats in his furious drive toward greatness so miraculously capable of just this humility. 19 February 1818: “. . . let us open our leaves like a flower and be passive and receptive . . . . I was led into these thoughts, my dear Reynolds, by the beauty of the morning operating on a sense of idleness. I have not read any Books. The Morning said I was right. I had no idea but of the Morning, and the Thrush said I was right, seeming to say: . . .”


Don’t make a list of don’ts.

* * *

A poetics that is nothing more than the turned-around thinking of the poem.

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