Robert Creeley

I Know a Man

As I sd to my
friend, because I am
always talking, -- John, I

sd, which was not his
name, the darkness sur-
rounds us, what

can we do against
it, or else, shall we &
why not, buy a goddamn big car,

drive, he sd, for
christ's sake, look
out where yr going.


In saying his poems, Creeley stops briefly at the end of each line, though without dropping the pitch of his voice. This gives it a jazzy, syncopated rhythm, very nervous. Thom Gunn calls it "a kind of eloquent stammering" (TLS, Nov. 4, 1983).

An interesting issue of authorial intention versus reader interpretation arises in connection with this poem. Who says the word "drive"?

Creeley has said in an interview (in  Athanor, 4 [1973]) that it's part of what the "I" of the poem says, but I don't know any reader who fails to hear it as part of the friend's answer.

What do you think?


Revised April 1997. Comments to Seamus Cooney [seamus.cooney@wmich.edu].