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Page 46

There it is: Make the blank page new,
as once -- child or adult -- you could make
the morning new. Make the blank page --
not the words, the voice, the poem
you write on the page, but the blank page
new, open, nothing, never been before --
make the page new. Pound advised poets,
"Make it new" -- meaning the poem,
the language: tinker, tweak, achieve
his quaint, curmudgeonly authority
or some guise as unfamiliar. (Some people
even read Pound.) I say, if the
blank page before you is new,

a blankness never before experienced,
a new day, empty of old voices
and plans, then whatever you put onto it
will be new, as new as dew drops
on grass blades, as new as your first steps
out the door, as new as each action
of the day, each meeting of eyes, each
opening and closing and curving and flowing
of space to surround you, you sexy
air foil, you! Have you never
been made new by moving into
a new space, standing on a new mountain top
or peak in Darien with vast surmise?

How can your words be other than new,
conceived in so new a space?
How can your reader's eyes not open wide,
entering upon such newness?

Note: One undergraduate day, while pacing in the library stacks thinking through a paper just about due, I came across and read an Ezra Pound polemic (a thin volume) about poetry entitled Make It New. That's not a bad idea ("Not a bad idea" -- the language of tiny surmise, anathema to Keats, I'm sure).

For one or two of you – which may be most of you – I should add that in his sonnet "On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer", Keats compares the revelatory first look at that translation of Homer to the experience of Cortez when he first viewed the Pacific from a peak in Darien ("with vast surmise").

Darien is in Panama, and the surmiser would have been Balboa, not Cortez, so scholars think Keats made a mistake. Perhaps Keats had no room for tri-syllabic "Balboa", so preferred Cortez. Anyway, Balboa carries too much baggage. (At least, in good hotels, it's the Balboas who carry your baggage and expect tips.)

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