On June 6th I finished the 7th Draft of The Parliament of Poets, an epic poem. Tolstoy set the standard for me with his seven drafts of War and Peace. Reading about that years ago, I have never been able to forget it. He, with his wife’s help (much contention around that fact in later years), wrote out the entire manuscript, over 1,000 pages in most editions, by hand, seven times! Awesome just to think of the physical energy expended, let alone the mental, especially after having written by hand my manuscript of a mere 280 pages, five times, puny by comparison! Argh, perhaps in other ways, self-doubt barking, though I dare to think otherwise, while knowing the ultimate judgment resides with readers… as it should.
At least, I tell myself, I have, in my own terms, achieved what I set out to do, as long ago as the early 1980s: Write an epic poem, a serious one, though laden with delight, that attempts to stand with Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Milton, the other great epic poets, East and West, one that confronts, attempts to confront, the fullness of modern life, in all its global complexity, humanity’s many strands, and weave a new, universal vision of epic song. It’s been a long and lonely, arduous journey. Whatever comes of it, whatever readers think, like or detest it, ignore or spurn it, for the first time in over thirty years, it’s not a weight on my consciousness, not one I’ve yet to deliver, but done, setting on my desk.
Read my other reflections on my epic poem in the Epic Category to the right >