In case there’s any doubt, let me
take this opportunity of saying
that my poems are not real poems.
Real poems come thundering off the tragic stage,
or live as folksongs in the fields and the harbour,
or echo in the great hall to remind a drunken
warlord of famous massacres and deceptions;
but mine do none of these things.
Real poems are uniquely personal expressions
of the individual’s private desires and torments,
or (according to certain equally eminent authorities)
they are intrinsically social and give collective voice
to the struggles and dreams and disquiets of an epoch;
but mine veer between the two
or don’t really do either.
Real poems are jewels with an infinity of facets
that catch the light in different ways
as they are turned and viewed by each new reader;
but mine are built up laboriously
out of ordinary rainwashed stone
and only one interpretation is correct.