Tom D'Evelyn on Poetry and Its Others (philosophy, theology, poetics)
Form as Guest: Milosz on the Moment or “A form accomplished”
From “At Yale,” Collected Poems, 516.
Whenever we think of what fulfills itself
By making use of us, we are somewhat uneasy.
A form accomplished, exists, though before it was not,
And we have nothing more to do with it. Others, generations,
Will chose what they want, accepting or destroying it.
And instead of us, real, they will need just names.
“What fulfills itself” is a renaming of the ancient Chinese concept translator David Hinton renders appearing of itself; later it would be called nature or creation or reality.
Milosz frames it in terms of past and future, the “moment” that seizes us — makes use of us—as a momentary host. The moment is our guest. It takes much delicacy of attitude, much mindfulness of attention, to be aware of it.
This understanding of the “moment” as in motion is basic to the metaxological vision of the between. It counters the objectivist tradition of modernism that suggests a more static “moment.”
This comes toward the end of the first part of this five part poem. It announces the “it” and how “it” uses us and how it may disappear. The balance of the poem includes a quote from Baudelaire on the power of an image in a painting to inspire in the beholder a multitude of “ideas or reveries.” The final three sections are meditations on paintings by Turner, Constable, and Corot.
The maker or poet may be said to “be made use of” as by Milosz, though now “Milosz” is just a name.