For the sake of symmetry, I am considering sacrificing the final verse from the “To a Swallow” draft. I may yet do so—once I assemble the selected variations into a poem and see the effect of the imbalance—but for now, it remains.
The poem has a traditional rhyming scheme: ABAB CDCD EFEF GHGH IJIJ. The asymmetry is created by lines 12 (F2) and 16 (H2) that follow a similar pattern (the repetition of a word set; for example, “Da-dum! Da-dum! Da-dum!”)—an element I want to keep.
I must, therefore, either embrace the “imbalance” for the sake of evocation in lines 12 and 16 or rethink the poem structure (which strikes me as ridiculous) to satisfy my aesthetic inclinations.
I completed “The Leaves” a few months ago. Today, I changed a few significant words within the two short verses to make them more consistent with the autumnal scene the poem describes, and whilst doing so was reminded anew of the benefits of distancing oneself from a work (completed or not) for an extended period.
Returning to a work after days, weeks and in this case months (but also years, as I found in another instance1), helps one see it more objectively, unrestricted by the sentimentality that sets in; for in the thick of the writing process, besotted with a line, a word or an idea, it can be difficult to let go and consider possibilities more ideal.
Depending on one’s level of self-awareness, the work will often suffer to some degree as a result, and it takes a tremendous amount of humility (and courage) to admit to oneself that a particular cherished idea is simply not the best. Distance allows one to reflect upon it all, to comprehend and appreciate what one has set out to do2.
From my Twitter account (no longer active): “An idea may come to one in an instant but giving it form takes days, weeks, months, even years. I remember composing ‘Autumn’, one of my earliest poems, in 2012. It was completed in a matter of hours; and whilst the result is adequate, I now consider it nothing more than a draft.” (Tweeted 1 April 2019)
Incidentally, in my ceaseless quest for simplicity, I have also reduced the title to “Leaves”.
I have now extracted from all the various verse variations those options that contain within their lines the most evocative expression of the poetic theme: freedom. The text does not quite resemble in its structure a poem yet—as there are many word and line variations within the verses (which I separate with slashes, for example, “skipping/slipping/sweeping/swooping”), making them appear convoluted—but the familiar traditional stanza shape will slowly emerge from the nebula in the weeks to come.