To think that one agonises for weeks or months over what will be read or recited in a moment. A poet can but hope it is the sweetest moment in a reader’s life, echoing in his soul for a lifetime thereafter.
I am slowly accepting the completion of the “Mist on the Mountain” poem. There is almost always at this stage of an artwork a suspicion in me that I have left some word—some line or stanza—unturned, that there is some idea upon which I can improve; and so I try this and that but invariably return to the version that appears in the final draft.
These last little experiments are reverberations of the writing process: so caught up is one in a cycle of exploring, critiquing and refining, one is left spinning for a time after the work is done; but as I endlessly recite the final draft—I must now surely have done so more than a thousand times (this is not an exaggeration on my part)—it begins to feel “right”.
The while I look tentatively at the next sketch.
My list1 suggests “The Batis II”, a haiku conceived as a companion to “The Batis I”, but since I have applied its concept to the “Feather” and “Zephyr” haiku set, it is pointless to pursue. “Dust and Blue”, therefore, is next. The working title refers to a sight in late December 20172 of dusty Merino Sheep3 against the hillsides and Blue Cranes4 against the sky.
Yesterday, I read through the initial draft of the sketch—three rough free-verse variations that came to me upon surveying the scene—and extracted from them a potential framework for the verse’s ultimate traditional—that is, lyric—structure. Already I see its potential—but first I must recite “Mist on the Mountain” a few thousand times more.
To my amazement, I have chosen a final variation for the last stanza of “Mist on the Mountain”, and the poem is complete! I shall now spend a few more days reviewing it—that is, reading, reciting and editing it where necessary—but I mark it on my list as a finished work. I should add that there is an alternative version of the poem which I keep as a personal indulgence rather than a possibility for the collection. It differs from the final draft in the first three stanzas where a few significant words are replaced, and in the fourth stanza where I use an anecdotal approach.
There are times when a line must introduce a new thought or element to a stanza, and times when it must expand or reflect upon one already introduced. Not every line in a poem must express something new; the poet must measure out his thoughts in considered couplets, comparing their contents one with the other.