“One Body: Some Notes on Form”

Lately, I’ve been writing sonnets. But where is the place today for metrical poetry? And how do you define formal poetry? Robert Hass, in his essay “One Body: Some Notes on Form” (Twentieth Century Pleasures) says the “form of a poem exists in the relation between its music and its seeing.” Here is the perfect example:


“To My Mother” Louise Gluck

It was better when we were

together in one body.

Thirty years. Screened

through the green glass

of your eye, moonlight

filtered into my bones

as we lay

in the big bed, in the dark,

waiting for my father.

Thirty years. He closed

your eyelids with

two kisses. And then spring

came and withdrew from me

the absolute

knowledge of the unborn,

leaving the brick stoop

where you stand, shading

your eyes, but it is

night, the moon

is stationed in the beech tree

round and white among

the small tin markers of the stars:

Thirty years. A marsh

grows up around the house.

Schools of spores circulate

behind the shades, drift through

gauze flutterings of vegetation.