Toward the end of our interview-discussion with Patti Smith on December 9, 2010 — moderated by Anthony DeCurtis — Smith introduced and played a version of “My Blakean Year.” Here is the first stanza of the song:
In my Blakean year I was so disposed Toward a mission yet unclear Advancing pole by pole Fortune breathed into my ear Mouthed* a simple ode One road is paved in gold One road is just a road
* In the performance this word is apparently “Obeyed.”
In the postal business, there’s a term of art (as it were): the forever stamp. Forever stamps are always equal in equal value to the current U.S. first-class mail 1-ounce rate. The term has been in use for some years, but hasn’t really been relevant until fairly recently. In eras when rates were stable — we all remember the days when the announcement of a rate increase was an event, causing a slight shock and even protest, something for which we anyway had to plan — a “forever stamp” was essentially superfluous.
Defining key aspects of the modern — can’t be done simply. But why not try? Here’s one. The modern poem isn’t about expression or expressiveness, something the poet has urgently wanted to say. It’s primarily neither topical nor personal in the accepted 20th-century sense of the person who has things “inside” that must be said, written, conveyed. The poem isn’t telling you you should or must know something. It doesn't cover or fill a gap, a need, a want. The poem is merely (oh that huge “merely” — but I don’t mean it trivially) a means of keeping a reader from going from it, a detention, a planning to stay, and then — in it — is a remnant of the poet, all we know of him or her at that moment, then (now, the time of coming upon the words) and here (in the poem itself, making an inside that's nowhere else but where it is).
To the extent that the above definition is apt and useful, then the modern verse mode derives largely from Emily Dickinson, who in more than half her poems makes the point I've made above the matter of the poem.
And Cid Corman, not otherwise deemed Dickinsonian, is surely getting at this in this poem:
It isnt for want of something to say— something to tell you—
something you should know— but to detain you-- keep you from going—
feeling myself here as long as you are— as long as you are.