Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Creative Process

I was lying in bed trying to get to sleep- and thinking about Rilke- who'd featured in the book I'm reading- and an image formed in my mind. There's a poet who isn't Rilke but something like him- and he's staying in an Italian castle as the guest of a rich patron and he says, "If I ring the bell a servant comes..."

I was half asleep and I dismissed the poet- only he wouldn't be dismissed. I found he was saying other things. He said the servant was called Luigi- and Luigi's wife was dead but he had a daughter...

I kept rolling the lines I had through my head and every time I did they picked up accretions. The poem was growing. Now I had an ending; It went " I wish I could ring/ To summon the angel/ Who brings me poems". Nicely circular I thought. But then as the poem kept filling out that ending came to seem a bit limp. So I braced myself and squared up to it- and wrote the ending as it now stands. Nothing much else changed. Luigi became Franz for metrical reasons- and, anyway, Franz is better. In almost every respect the lines as they first came to me needed very little revision. It was very much like taking dictation.

After several hours it became clear that the poem was finished- only it kept going round and  round in my head because it was afraid I'd forget it. Eventually I got up, went downstairs and wrote it out in long hand. Then I was able to get some sleep.

I typed up my script after breakfast. Only minor changes were necessary. I looked up Wannersee- which is the name that was given me- and found there didn't seem to be any such place. But there are several Wannensees- one of them in Berlin and I thought that would do very nicely...
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