Creeley’s “I Keep to Myself Such Measures”

I feel like I’m almost breaking my own rules by choosing a poem from Robert Creeley from Postmodern American Poetry to highlight. After all, I already bought the book a few days ago, even though I haven’t started reading it yet.

Still there is something about these poems that I like very much, and they seem to fit in with the Morley and Levertov poems I’ve discussed earlier. both because of style and content.

This particular poem seems a little more symbolic, than those two, but not remarkably so. In a sense, the poem seems to suggest both the reason why we write poems and the futility of writing them:

“I Keep to Myself Such Measures…”

I keep to myself such
measures as I care for,
daily the rocks
accumulate position.

There is nothing
but what thinking makes
it less tangible. The mind,
fast as it goes, loses

pace, puts in place of it
like rocks simple markers,
for a way only to
hopefully come back to

where it cannot. All
forgets. My mind sinks.
I hold in both hands such weight
it is my only description.

Despite the fact that we spend much of our life, and some argue rather cogently too much of our life, thinking, particularly about the past, we can never accurately recall those things that are important to us because the mind can only recall “significant” parts of any experience, not the whole.

Our dilemma, of course, is that thinking is the best that we have. Either we rely on thinking or we forget the past. Tragically the mind, limited as it is, is all we have to rely on.

6 thoughts on “Creeley’s “I Keep to Myself Such Measures””

  1. It’s an interesting point, whether the inability to recall is a regrettable loss. I’m 53. There are enormous spans of time that I recall almost nothing of, but I can’t say it’s troubled me very much. I’m reading Remembrance of Things Past, which is the first piece of writing in a long time that has evoked for me deep feelings of love for humanity. Of course, he has much to say about the experience of recollection; that process is its own joy. Appropos of nothing, there is a Buddhist saying: there is no past, there is no future, there is no present. Where does THAT leave us?

  2. It’s amazing to me that things I think I can remember seem quite different when I look back at pictures and what I remember doesn’t seem to fit what the pictures show, Tom.

    Ideally of course, I think you try to live as much as possible in the “now,” but I’m not sure where that would be if there is no “present.” Of course, literally, by the time you utter the words “the present’ they have gone by.

  3. Sad to report that Robert Creeley passed away on March 30…which makes even heavier your exchange of ideas here.

    “For nothing else this for love,
    for what other one is this?
    For love once was and is for love.
    For love.”

    -Robert Creeley

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