Washington University Libraries Home
Final Versions Home

Second Draft of Asia, undated

Asia. In wave after wave, peoples flooded out from the heart of Asia, in the pre-literate world the sea of languages was protean, an unreformed elemental source.   Alexander's Gate stands like a door upon the chaos of the potential, of all that has not been recorded.

The rage of passionate Love appeard to me and appears to me still to be a convulsion of the sea driven by storm-winds or shaken by disturbances of the earth itself - in turn an ocean of rock and fire.   War, love, and the poem - showings forth of the deepst forces and cleavings of Man's inner nature.   After William Carlos William's Paterson had prepared the way with its great images of the roaring waters, the divorce, the geologic stratas of history, and the welding flames, I tried in An Essay at War to draw the elements of my concern - the agony of the War, the ecstasy of the work of art, the things experienced in loss and the things eternally kept in the work - into one complex and so to work that material that new orders (impulses toward form and meaning) might be thrown up or set free in the process.  

Thru 1951, my first year with Jess, I workt on the Essay at War, at a loss always - for I had turned from the idea of a form as an object and embarkt upon the adventure as a form as a process. Would I have understood Whitehead's Process and Reality then? As it was I did not understand Olson's essay Projective Verse in which this concept of form as happening and not as completion had had its first statement. But I was beginning to see meaning in terms of what was happening in the movement of the poem