My adventures trying to get the following sonnet the way I wanted it was a major strand of my first full-length book, Of Manywhere-at-Once, 23 years ago:
Sonnet from my Forties Much have I ranged the major-skyed suave art The Stevens shimmered through his inquiries Into the clash and blend of seem and are And volumes filled in vain attempts to reach The heights that he did. Often, too, I've been To where the small dirt's awkward first grey steps Toward high-hued sensibility begin In Roethke's verse, or measured the extent Of hammered gold and wing-swirled mythic light That Yeats achieved, or marveled down the worlds That Pound re-morninged windily to life, And struggled futilely to match their works. Yet still, nine-tenths insane though it now seems, I seek those ends, I hold to my huge dreams.
The last chapter alone has five versions of it. I reworked it at least ten times in the next four or five years. Since then, I fiddled with at every few years and, for some unknown reason, took a stab at it again a few nights ago, ending yesterday with the version above. Who knows whether it will be my final version. Right now I dislike it slightly less than I dislike the other versions. I consider it a fascinating failure. If I ever finally finish the second volume of Of Manywhere-at-Once that I planned to have published a year after the first edition of volume one, I’ll explain in detail why I rate it as I do. (I also consider it brilliant, by the way.)
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Here are two more entries to the list I posted yesterday:
No poetry written after the year X is any good.
No poetry written before the year X is any good.
A thought of my own: the popularity of serious poetry depends much more on what the people in it are doing than, say, what the language in it is. I elitistly believe that the more unanthrocentric (people-centered) a poem is, the better is it–and the less it will appeal to philistines. Sometimes.