I’m working on a poem about Grace Hopper. By working I mean: reading and thinking. (There’s a wonderful biography on her by Kathleen Broome Williams.) No pen to page yet, no ideas about form.
A few nights ago I found out that Eavan Boland has written a poem about Hopper, published in her Against Love Poetry. I immediately requested it from the library and although my branch didn’t have it, a nearby one did. So tonight, the extraordinarily kind librarian went through the large stacks of unprocessed, requested books to find it for me so that I didn’t have to wait nearly a week to read it.
There are some beautiful lines. There are some places where the rhythm dies, in my opinion, and prose takes over, and I enjoy it less. But it ends on a beautiful line.
I read the poem, enthralled. I read it a second time, my mind asking, which of these lines might make a good repeton?
And I wondered again, how can a good poem make Harold Bloom feel anxious? The wonderful poems that have already been written do not stop me from writing, do not inhibit me.
Does anyone else wonder that? Are there things you don’t read because you’re worried how they will go into your Word Bucket?
One could argue, given the quotation I’m about to include, that maybe even Boland wondered this but read further, into the second quotation. Bloom does not fit here.
Let there be language—
even if we use it differently:
I never made it timeless as you have.
I never made it numerate as you did.
I am writing at a screen as blue
as any hill, as any lake, composing this
to show you how the world begins again:
One word at a time.
One woman to another.