“Sketch for an Aesthetic Project” is a long narrative poem in four sections totaling ninety lines. Jay Wright employs the first-person voice to lend immediacy to the spontaneity of experience and thought. Three lines from Thomas Kinsella’s “Night-walker” introduce the poem: “I believe now that love is half persistence,/ A medium in which, from change to change,/ Understanding may be gathered.” Wright’s narrator achieves this understanding by equating aesthetics with the natural changes of love. The poem’s first section contains three stanzas; the remaining three sections contain one stanza each.
In the first section’s five-line stanza, the narrator describes his restlessness with his “stomp[ing] about these rooms in an old overcoat.” Anxiety seldom compels him to leave his enclosure “even on sunny days,” and his cold rooms suggest a dormant foundry.
One night, when he does leave, he finds emptiness, and this suggested locale corresponds to Wright’s native Albuquerque, New Mexico, or the Mexico that he deeply enjoys. In the second and longest of this section’s stanzas, the speaker discovers in the vacant environs a few persons, a burro, the sounds of his own footsteps, and the furtive “unthinking walkers” cursed by the arcane. The soul he hopes to meet “tugging a burro up the street/ loaded with wet wood” would be his alter ego, laden with fuel to ignite a beauteous aesthetic response, but this figure...
(The entire section is 551 words.)