Frost on Inspiration

Robert Frost wrote:

“If an idea for a poem comes to me when I am playing golf at the club, I just tell it to trot along for the present and come round to my office tomorrow morning. You come round to my office at eleven o’clock tomorrow morning and I’ll write you down, you little rudiment, so you’ll think you were always written down. Call on a man of business in his hours of business.”

This stirs up a lot of questions for me. Was Frost just trying to be funny? Or did he really approach the composition of poems, which are generally seen as works of art, in this way?

I’ve certainly done my fair share of composing on commission, but even if I’m getting paid and my music is providing for my livelihood, I want it to be beautiful and meaningful, and not formulaic.

As for when inspiration comes, I don’t think it can or should be regulated. I’ve been awakened from a sound sleep on many an occasion by music fully formed in my mind. I get up and write it down, or, if it’s really intense, I’ve been known to go down to the keyboard at three in the morning and work a few hours until it’s recorded.

There have also been times when I didn’t have a keyboard or something to write with, and I’ve had to hold music in my mind or just let it float off into the great beyond where it sprang from.

I used to be bothered when I’d let something go, but I’m not so much anymore. I’ve learned that, more often than not, the right music for each situation will come, and I’m content to trust that. I also think that, sometimes, those beautiful songs we hear within ourselves are meant for us alone.

These songs often come through in dreams for me. I’ll wake up in amazement at what I’ve just heard, but beyond that certainty that I’ve just been privy to something wonderful, I can’t capture the notes or write anything down. Often in these instances, I couldn’t even sing you the melody I just heard.

I don’t think you can punch in or punch out on a time-clock when it comes to creative arts. I don’t compose that way, and, while I laughed at Frost calling the poetic idea “you little rudiment,” I don’t intend to follow his example, even if he is a poet I admire.

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Explore posts in the same categories: metaphysics, music, Reading, spirituality

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