Acts of Mind: Conversations with Contemporary Poets

By Richard Jackson | Go to book overview

Fred Chappell, 1980


On the Margins of Dreams

POETRY MISCELLANY: In a poem, "The Father," in The World Between the Eyes, you have the line, "One moment informs every moment." The statement seems to me an accurate description of your work; there's a sense of what Shelley called "interpenetration." I think of the simultaneous visions of the child in the house and the soldiers in "The World Between the Eyes" and then the linking of that poem with "The Father" through the phrases uttered by the soldiers. In Midquest this procedure is intensified; the structure is both simultaneous by its echoes of phrase and image and by the fact that the four books that make the poem take place in one day and progressive in the sense that there are gradual discoveries and modulations of phrase and image. In a way, Midquest glances back to rewrite part of The World in the sense that some images link the two; "Cleaning the Well" builds upon "The Father," for example. But in Midquest itself, I think of an image like the bell image (which also appeared in The World, in "Sunday"), which is used in several poems in River, Wind Mountain, and Earthsleep, climaxing in "My Grandmother's Dream of Plowing," where the bell becomes gold becomes child, then goblin, and then is associated with death and quiet in her dream, which is also a dream of her transformations. The way that image echoes and also progresses describes the way the whole poem moves. Perhaps, then, we could begin to talk about this sense of interpenetration and of the problems of writing the long poem today.

-153-

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Acts of Mind: Conversations with Contemporary Poets
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • The Path of Saying 1
  • The Sanctioned Babel 7
  • Untelling the Hour 13
  • The Domain of the Marvelous Prey 19
  • The Hallowing of the Everyday 27
  • Event: Corrective: Cure 32
  • Stepping into the Sky 39
  • Unnaming the Myths 48
  • On the Horizon of Time 53
  • Distilled from Thin Air 61
  • The Imminence of a Revelation 69
  • Renaming the Present 77
  • Lives We Keep Wanting to Know 84
  • Doubling the Difference 93
  • Questions of Will 101
  • Settling in Another Field 107
  • Living the Layers of Time 113
  • Double Vision 120
  • Emergencies of the Moment 126
  • The Languages of Illusion 132
  • The Mystery of Things That Are 140
  • Before the Beginning 146
  • On the Margins of Dreams 153
  • Unbreakable Codes 158
  • Projecting the Literal Word 164
  • Answering the Dark 172
  • Shaping Our Choices 178
  • Magic: Power 183
  • On the Periphery of Time 191
  • The Candle in the Pitcher 196
  • Selected Bibliography 206
  • Index 213
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