Friday, December 13, 2013

I Wish I'd Written This

But I, Too, Want To Be a Poet
By Fanny Howe 

But I, too, want to be a poet
and live a virtuous life
To erase from my days
confusion & poverty
fiction & a sharp tongue!

To sing again
with the tones of adolescence
demanding vengeance
against my enemies, with words
clear & austere

To end this tumultuous quest
for reasonable solutions
to situations mysterious & sore

To have the height to view
myself as I view others
with lenience and love

To be free of the need
to make a waste of money
when my passion,
first and last,
is for the ecstatic lash
of the poetic line
and no visible recompense.


Stop me if you've heard this one! Apparently it is well-known, which is not surprising. I'm sure many poets feel Howe speaks for them.

It must be a bit tongue in cheek, surely? She IS a poet! Or is she being sarcastic, poking fun at idealistic notions of what a poet is or should be? Or, does she express her own simple truth? Possibly all of the above simultaneously.

'Visible recompense' is something we'd all like, isn't it? But to be freed of the need for it — ah, what freedom that would be! To be able to devote oneself to one's poetic art, for its own sake....

I'd like to have written some of those excellent phrases. I look for some to quote here as examples, and find the whole poem is a series of them! It is hard to separate any from the others — except of course the most arresting and goose-bumpy of the lot: 'the ecstatic lash / of the poetic line'. How I'd love to have written that!

Fanny Howe is a prolific, prize-winning poet. Her Amazon page is actually three pages. The Poetry Foundation gives a brief, literary biography and several of her poems. Wikipedia fleshes out the information a bit more. She is also a novelist and short story writer, married to a poet and writer, and the mother of three adult children, one of whom is himself a novelist.

Here are a number of links to her reading her poetry, on YouTube and other places. Enjoy!


Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).

8 comments:

  1. Beautiful. Every line is fantastic!

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  2. You are right, Rosemary. She expresses the wish many of us have despite her fame. Oddly I have never heard of her, but I think she is a poet I will seek out. Thank you for this!

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  3. WOW! Thanks Rosemary! I'm going to visit her You Tube videos now.

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  4. Thank you Rosemary! This is a wow! And I had not read this piece before!

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  5. «To be free of the need
    to make a waste of money
    when my passion,
    first and last,
    is for the ecstatic lash
    of the poetic line
    and no visible recompense.»
    I truly truly truly wish I'd written this!

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  6. Another amazing poet I had yet to be introduced to. Thank you, Rosemary, for broadening our access to these fantastic poets. What a wonderful view of what it is to write poems. I love the "ecstatic lash". So Rumi-like.

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  7. Fantastic. I really like that, "To end this tumultuous quest for reasonable solutions to situations mysterious & sore," that's awesome.

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