[from Goatfoot, Milktongue, Twinbird by Donald Hall]
A poem is one inside talking to another inside. . . .
Lyric poetry, typically, has one goal and one message, which is to urge the condition of inwardness, the inside from which its own structure derives. . . .
the old distinction between vates and poiein. The poiein, from the Greek verb for making or doing, becomes the poet—the master of craft, the maker of the labyrinth of epic or tragedy or lyric hymn, tale-teller and spell-binder. The vates is bound in a spell. He is the rhapsode Socrates patronizes in Ion. In his purest form he utters what he does not understand at all . . . He is the visionary, divinely inspired . . .
There is no poiein for the same reason there is no vates . . . the distinction becomes trivial when we discover the psychic origins of poetic form . . .
Yeats said that the finished poem made a sound like the click of the lid on a perfectly made box. . . . the poet improvises toward that click . . . pleasure in resolution is Twinbird. . . . a poem . . . exists as a sensual body . . . reaches us through our mouths . . . and in the muscles of our legs . . . These pleasures are Milktongue and Goatfoot . . .
From the earliest times, poetry has existed in order to retrieve, to find again, and to release. In the poet who writes the poem, in the reader who lives it again, in the ideas, the wit, the images, the doctrines, the exhortations, the laments and the cries of joy, the lost forest struggles to be born again inside the word. The life of urge and instinct, that rages and coos, kicks and frolics, as it chooses only without choosing—this life is the life the poem grows from, and reconstitutes.