... Ah, poems amount to so little when you write them too early in your life. You ought to wait and gather sense and sweetness for a whole lifetime, and a long one if possible, and then, at the very end, you might perhaps be able to write ten good lines. For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)--they are experiences. For the sake of a single poem, you must see many cities, many people and Things, you must understand animals, must feel how birds fly, and know the gesture which small flowers make when they open in the morning. You must be able to think back to streets in unknown neighbourhoods, to unexpected encounters, and to partings you had long seen coming;to days of childhood whose mystery is still unexplained, to parents whom you had to hurt when they brought in a joy and you didn't pick it up (it was a joy meant for somebody else--); to childhood illnesses that began so strangely with so many profound and difficult transformations, to days in quiet, restrained rooms and to mornings by the sea, to the sea itself, to seas, to nights of travel that rushed along overhead and went flying with all the stars,--and it is still not enough to be able to think of all that. You must have memories of many nights of love, each one different from all the others, memories of women screaming in labor, and of light, pale, sleeping girls who have just given birth and are closing again. But you must also have been beside the dying, must have sat beside the dead in the room with the open window and scattered noises. And it is not yet enough to have memories. You must be able to forget them when they are many, and you must have the immense patience to wait until they return. For the memories themselves are not important. Only when they have changed into our very blood, into glance and gesture, and are nameless, no longer to be distinguished from ourselves-- only then can it happen that in some very rare hour the first word of a poem arises in their midst and goes forth from them.
As soon as an artist has located the vital center of his activities, nothing will be more important for him than to remain within this center and never move further away from it (which is, of course, also the center of his nature, of his world) than to the interior walls of his quietly and steadily expanding achievement. His place is not, never, not even for a moment, next to the beholder and critic (at least no longer in an environment where all that is visible becomes ambiguous and preliminary, an auxiliary construction and temporary scaffolding for something else). And one basically needs to be an acrobat to leap back safely and unharmed from the point of view into one’s inner center (the distances are too great and all the spots too destabilized to risk such an eminently inquisitive feat). Most artists today use up their strength in this back-and-forth, and in addition to wasting their energy they get terribly confused and lose a part of their essential innocence to the sin of having taken their work from the outside by surprise, to have tasted it, to have joined others in enjoying it!
One ought to turn the most extreme possibility inside oneself into the measure for one's life, for our life is vast and can accommodate as much future as we are able to carry.
The further one ventures, the more proper, the more personal, the more singular an experience becomes - finally, the art object is the necessary, irrepressible, most definitive expression of this singularity... It this way the art object can be of such tremendous help in the life of the one compelled to create it - it is his summary: the knot in the rosary at which his life says a prayer, the ever recurring proof...
In the boundless heavens of work we are afforded one form of bliss that surpasses all others: that something first experienced much earlier is returned to us and can now be grasped and assimilated into the self with the love that has in the meantime grown more just. That is when our divisions begin to be adjusted, when something from the past returns as if from the future; something accomplished as something yet to be completed. And this is the first experience that positions us, out of sequence, at that spot in our our heart that is in space and always equidistant from everything and subject to rising and to setting because of the unceasing movement around it...