Finished the 7th Draft of The Parliament of Poets

Man on the Moon

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 >

Frederick Glaysher


Filed under Epic

2 Responses to Finished the 7th Draft of The Parliament of Poets

  1. Simon Seamount

    It is great to be able to finally finish such a work. I started only a year ago, and though I have made good progress, there is so much more yet to write. I am glad you got it finished.

  2. FG

    Thanks, Simon, for saying so.

    As someone trying to write an epic poem, you perhaps understand how challenging it really is. Out of the endless possibilities of a blank page, how does one choose? Readers will know what is false or ill conceived… so, fear and trembling, on the order of Kierkegaard! Has one been true to oneself and the epic tradition? …while finding ways to mold it to what one must say?

    An onrush of other normal self-doubt, though I’m grateful that I’ve heard a few good words, and am encouraged that perhaps I have not entirely failed readers, hope others might agree if my epic somehow finds its way to them.

    Don’t give up on yours! After all, it’s not like knocking out a lyric… a single moment of inspiration, but an arduous test of will, the summoning of the fullness of one’s vision and commitment to it, over four years for me, rather, without exaggeration, thirty of incessant brooding on it.

    I joked with my wife just yesterday that I feel like a woman who has finally given birth! She of course laughed in my face, vehemently shouting back at me, “You have no idea!” While the analogy may not be exact, something like that, perhaps you’ll allow me! Best wishes…

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