~~~~~~~[T]he sense that art should not, must not, divorce itself from la pesanteur, from what is painful, even ugly, that every quest for clarity, radiance, must proceed through full consciousness of what contraptions us. This might be one definition of rapture: rapture means to forget pain, ugliness, suffering, to focus only oh beauty. But purely rapturous works provoke only my opposition or indifference. Precisely the endless battle between heaviness, suffering, and a illumination, elevation, forms art’s essence. * One key question that every reader of poetry or poet must face from time to time: Does the light, the poetic force without which no great poem could take shape, exist only in our imagination, in intense, blissful fantasies of inspiration, or does it have some counterpart in reality? Is it only a leap of imagination, a holiday from the ordinary, a festival of language, or does it uncover something that is usually concealed, but truly exists? * [I]n the United States memory is preserved chiefly in libraries and museums, since the cities mostly suffer from amnesia, old buildings are laid waste and gleaming new buildings take their place every couple of decades. * Young poets, it seemed, did not know how to lie. As if poetry, whether dealing with a genuine poetic calling or the painstaking labors of some future hack journalist, placed the same excruciating task before all its acolytes, saying brusquely, Maybe somebody, after years, after decades, I’ll tell you how to live, but meanwhile you’ll stumble blindly between joy and despair, profound doubt and ecstasy, blissful, festive, but never convinced of its right to exist, its lasting place in the economy of human affairs. I give you only strict but vague directives. I promise nothing. * [S]o we live, torn between brief explosions f meaning nd patient wandering through the plains of ordinary days. * If we’re still looking at the transition from novels to poetry, from long duration, painstaking continuity, to the suddenly flash, the poem, then it seems—you can’t be entirely sure in advance—that death, which we so fear, belongs to this second category, that it happens like a poem, not a novel. Whereas our fear takes place in duration, in “the novel.” * I don’t know how my fellow poets live, but I know perfectly well that I don’t usually believe in my own poems.