I drafted a poem that appeared, first, in the guise of a Chinese-influenced nature lyric. It contained familiar imagery (moon, trees) and a quiet first-person speaker. The pacing was patient but focused; the draft flowed modestly toward its delta.
I reread the draft, sighed, fidgeted, sighed, and noted a rising urge to upset this peaceable project. From the air I snatched a title: "John Doe's Suicide Note." Instantly the gentle lyric transformed itself into a compressed portrait of anxiety and dread.
The power of titles: Browning's "My Last Duchess," Plath's "Death & Co.," Frost's "Too Anxious for Rivers" . . . if I pause too long to pore over my books for examples, I will never finish this note to you.
The point is: I frightened myself when I saw what I had done. And then I spent the rest of the afternoon sharpening the poem so that it would frighten you too. Perhaps that reaction synthesizes the core difference between inspiration and revision.