Those blessèd structures, plot and rhyme— why are they no help to me now I want to make something imagined, not recalled? I hear the noise of my own voice: The painter’s vision is not a lens, it trembles to caress the light. But sometimes everything I write with the threadbare art of my eye seems a snapshot, lurid, rapid, garish, grouped, heightened from life, yet paralyzed by fact. All’s misalliance. Yet why not say what happened? Pray for the grace of accuracy Vermeer gave to the sun’s illumination stealing like the tide across a map to his girl solid with yearning. We are poor passing facts, warned by that to give each figure in the photograph his living name.
From Day by Day by Robert Lowell, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. Copyright © 1975, 1976, 1977 by Robert Lowell. Used by permission.