You know something is central to a poem when you are prepared to rework or sacrifice any other part of the composition to preserve it—when it appears in every variation and has survived every revision.

This, at first, seems an impossible task, for I consider them all to be promising; but over time the shortcomings of each become apparent, and one by one they are discarded until the most succinct variation remains.

After much work on the “Quietude” sketch (previously “The Muse”), I have whittled down the variations to seven, each expressing in its particular way: how comforting is the tranquillity of the countryside. I must now deliberate over which is best.