The genesis of a poem

From The Paris Review: W. H. Auden, The Art of Poetry (interviewed by Michael Newman):


Can you say something about the genesis of a poem? What comes first?


At any given time, I have two things on my mind: a theme that interests me and a problem of verbal form, meter, diction, etc. The theme looks for the right form; the form looks for the right theme. When the two come together, I am able to start writing.


Do you start your poems at the beginning?


Usually, of course, one starts at the beginning and works through to the end. Sometimes, though, one starts with a certain line in mind, perhaps a last line. One starts, I think, with a certain idea of thematic organization, but this usually alters during the process of writing.


Do you have any aids for inspiration?


I never write when I’m drunk. Why should one need aids? The Muse is a high-spirited girl who doesn’t like to be brutally or coarsely wooed. And she doesn’t like slavish devotion—then she lies.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s