The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

The title of Robert Creeley’s first collection of poetry from previously published volumes, For Love (1962), is an accurate summation of one of the essential concerns of many of the poems gathered there, but as critic Cid Corman points out, the second section includes “some of the unhappiest love poems of our time.” While Creeley has always maintained that the possibility of love is one of the strongest restorative forces humans can bring to bear against the ruins of time, the poems in A Form of Women were written during the strained, difficult days when his first marriage was moving toward dissolution.

Utilizing a four-line stanza that is like a short quatrain without rhyme, Creeley has created a basic unit that can either advance or “stop anywhere” so that each stanza is both a single meditative block and a part of a larger grouping. The first section, composed of three stanzas, begins with a couplet which presents the poet’s philosophical position—his belief that his previous experiences have so shaped his sense of himself and the world that they will be a dominant factor in any relationship. The next two stanzas amplify this idea, asserting that the accumulation of experience has been driven by the will to probe and question even at the risk of uncovering some disquieting or unsettling aspect of his psyche. These stanzas move toward a pause, leading to the development of a meditative mood as the poet examines his...

(The entire section is 578 words.)