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This poem is the reason I own The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley. Seriously. It caught my eye while browsing in the book tent at the 1996 Waterloo Poetry Festival (one of the better absences from high school I was ever excused from). I read this poem and decided it alone was worth the price of the book, but of course since then I've derived great enjoyment from the rest of its contents as well.

I went on to incorporate this poem into a project for my AP English Language class, following our discussion of Plato's Allegory of the Den and Oedipus Rex, in particular themes and metaphors of light and sight and truth. I built a window frame (complete with curtains, of which I was quite proud at the time) and wrote this poem on its pane. After all, the poem is about self-reflection, and at night a window becomes a sort of mirror. I still can't get over how cool that is. Robert Creeley is a genius. But I should get to the poem already.

Poem for D.H. Lawrence

I would begin by explaining
that by reason of being
I am and no other.

Always the self returns to
self-consciousness, seeing
the figure drawn by the window
by its own hand, standing
alone and unwanted by others.
It sees this, the self sees
and returns to the figure
there in the evening, the darkness
alone and unwanted by others.

In the beginning was this self,
perhaps, without the figure,
without consciousness of self
or figure or evening. In the
beginning was this self only,
alone and unwanted by others.

In the beginning was that and this
is different, is changed and how
it is changed is not known but felt.
It is felt by the self and the self
is feeling, is changed by feeling,
but not known, is changed, is felt.

Remembering the figure by the window,
in the evening drawn there by the window,
is to see the thing like money, is to be
sure of materials, but not to know
where they came from or how
they got there or when they came.
Remembering the figure by the window
the evening is remembered, the darkness
remembered as the figure by the window,
but is not to know how they came there.

The self is being, is in being and
because of it. The figure is not being
nor the self but is in the self and
in the being and because of them.

Always the self returns to, because of
being, the figure drawn by the window,
there in the evening, the darkness,
alone and unwanted by others.

Robert Creeley

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