Cid Corman, “It isnt for want” – An alternate interpretation

cid corman

Formal analysis

This is poem is about the poem as it is being read. It is about the poet, itself and the reader.

It in the first line refers to the this that is this is not because I have something to say or share or because there is something you should know but it is simple to keep you here to keep to from leaving and in your presence I feel myself, you define me you complete me.

The dashes are there to emphasize on the pause between the lines, are they a replacement of the customary comma? Maybe.

Or as is better put

This modern poem isn’t about expression or expressiveness, something the poet has urgently wanted to say. It’s primarily neither topical nor personal in the accepted 20th-century sense of the person who has things “inside” that must be said, written, conveyed. The poem isn’t telling you you should or must know something. It doesn’t cover or fill a gap, a need, a want. The poem is merely (oh that huge “merely” — but I don’t mean it trivially) a means of keeping a reader from going from it, a detention, a planning to stay, and then — in it — is a remnant of the poet, all we know of him or her at that moment, then (now, the time of coming upon the words) and here (in the poem itself, making an inside that’s nowhere else but where it is).

To the extent that the above definition is apt and useful, then the modern verse mode derives largely from Emily Dickinson, who in more than half her poems makes the point I’ve made above the matterof the poem.

And Cid Corman, not otherwise deemed Dickinsonian, is surely getting at this in this poem.

– from Jacket2

How I look at it

This poem is timeless.

Do things exist only in the presence of an observer? Obviously not. But they do become significant only in the presence of an observer.


The beauty of this poem is in its simplicity, in it being the poem and it becoming a poem as it is being read.There are books are which are very demanding of their readers, then there are others you can simply breeze through, there are some which challenge you – which make you think and then there is this poem – these nine lines – acquiring meaning only because you have read them. Once you look away from the screen/paper this poem means nothing much unlike a story which still remains a story.

The involvement of the reader to define itself makes this poem eternal.

This poem tries to escape the chains of time, the fleeting moment of now. It is timeless. No matter when who reads it will be relevant to that day, it shall then too make sense.  captures the essence of timelessness.

Reader Space

Poems and all other forms of art for that matter have spaces allocated to the subject matter, to the voice of the narrator, for character development to design and other literary aspects. For example in Amitav Ghosh’s sea of poppies the Raja has more physical space dedicated to him than Kalua both for narration and character development. A lot of physical space(and here I mean the words) has been given to Neel ( the Raja) to tell of his emotional turmoil from riches to rags. Similarly a poet can choose to talk about nature and define it’s space in the words used.

One hardly comes across a text which has a space for the reader. This poem does. There is more space for the reader than the there is for the poet.

You might like reading this poem – Come be human with me by Keaton Henson

You might also like reading – A pinch of nostalgia

Author: pecsbowen


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