Video: The Miraculous Thing To Do

Year

2008

Type

Video

From The Poet's View: Intimate Profiles of Five Major American Poets, which features Kay Ryan, John Ashbery, Louise Glück, Anthony Hecht, and W. S. Merwin. Available in the Poetry Store.

Transcript

It's so obviously the most miraculous thing to do, I have to remind myself that not everyone in the world actually wants to be a poet. Many people aren't even remotely interested in it, but it's so clear to me that, of course, it's what you want to do.

I started working on something, and it was really bad, it was crummy. But I was really so happy just to be working on a little crummy thing. And I would get home, and I would think, "it's waiting for me!" You know, I would have the draft on the counter, and I would move it from room to room. And I would look at it, and each time I looked at it, it was still the same thing. I was sitting in bed with my draft and reading it, and all of a sudden I thought: "I know what this needs. It needs a swerve. It needs German. It needs a German line." But I don't speak German! So I called one of my friends, and said: "How do you say this in German?"

In the silence of consciousness I ask myself:
why did I reject my life? And I answer
Die Erde überwältigt mich:
the earth defeats me.

—from "Landscape—Part 4"