“The K” is a lyric poem of twenty-six lines written in free verse. It interprets the letter K as a physical symbol of the fully realized human being who, in harmony with the moon’s gravitational force, moves beyond conventional limitations conditioned by Western civilization and bridges the gap between the subjective and the objective and between the self and the natural realm of total reality.
The escape from the partitioning of reality characteristic of the modern Western mind to the attainment of a wholeness of being marked the principal aim of Charles Olson’s art and thought. As he stated about ultimate human aspirations in The Special View of History (1956), “each one of us has the desire for the good (Love), we move to beauty (Aphrodite), we care for the Real (Truth or Idea), and we have to do something about it, whatever we do (we Will).” Poetry is meant to assist humanity in the process of such self-realization by reimagining the world, reorienting readers, and thereby dissolving the separation between the delimited self and the outer, total reality.
The poem begins with an energetic and upbeat interpretation of “The K” as, literally, an alphabetical symbol of the “tumescent I” that is the fully realized self in harmony with the external natural force of the moon acting on the tidal energies and potentialities of a human being. The upward linear stroke of the letter K represents the flowing out of...
(The entire section is 604 words.)