I didn’t expect to ever publish this memoir, primarily because I didn’t feel it “fit” the genre as it exists today (and it doesn’t, but that’s why I treasure indie publishers like Slant Books). I embedded these poems and fables and theological reflections in various places in the narrative to give variety to what might otherwise have been a wearing litany.
A quarter of a century before Milton finished Paradise Lost, the young poet began listing topics for his future masterpiece. Ardent devotees who imagine the poet foreordained to create a great religious epic might be surprised to learn that his list of more than a hundred ideas contained thirty-three from British history. His leading idea, at the time, was an Arthurian epic.
The great voluntary silences in literature baffle me. Some really did just give this art up. For Gerard Manley Hopkins, burning his poems put away childish things so he could focus on the priesthood. Philip Larkin felt the Muse had moved on and didn’t write for the last ten years of his life.