In a February post I quoted Auden, who said, "The degree of excitement which a writer feels during the process of composition is as much an indication of the value of the final result as the excitement felt by a worshiper is an indication of the value of his devotions, that is to say, very little indication." I wonder how he would rate "degree of discomfort" as a side-effect of accomplishment. Really, getting very good at anything seems to involve not just discomfort but self-destruction--whether physically as an athlete or mentally as a writer (which sometimes involves physical discomfort too: all this required sitting can be a drag). Still, what else would I be good for if I couldn't do this? I can imagine Auden asking himself the same question.
Here's one stanza from my new poem, which, as I'm sure I must have mentioned, is called "The White Bear" and loosely reworks the fairy tale "East of the Sun and West of the Moon." It's written entirely in 11-line, alternate-indent stanzas; and the lines are long, a style choice that will come back to haunt me if anyone tries to typeset the thing (and also explains why I've copied it here in such a small point size).
The girl took to wandering away of an afternoon, far down the forest track,merely for the chance to lie among the broken remnantsof last year's bracken ferns and whisper the bear's name. Her parents,puzzled and sad, watched her disappear into the woods;yet they were not more puzzled than their daughter, nor more sad.She did not think to ponder, "So what, after all, does home mean?"as she lay in her damp cot and watched the finches, garbed in their winter drab,flicker from bough to bough; but the question nonethelessdangled before her in the listless air; and when finally she sat up, stiff with cold,and gathered strength for her mother's too cheerful greeting,her father's anxious frown, she had advanced not a step toward contentment.
Dinner tonight: marinated London broil grilled rare over a wood fire (first firepit meal of the season!), garlic mashed potatoes, roasted white carrots with green apples and radicchio, sourdough boule, and maybe sugar cookies if I remember to soften the butter.