Mask of Reconfiguration, with a Poem by Jaccottet

To read/write a poem is to don a mask that reconfigures reality.  Some poems reflect on the reconfiguration  process. In Jaccottet’s poem cited below,  light from above causes perplexity, not because we know about the sun as source (so-called objective knowledge), but because the brightness is more than we bargain for. It is all-enveloping, reducing us to shadows. In the end, however,  pity drowns everything. The movement from objective analysis to perplexity to humility-in-community is the arc of the creative process as we know it (in the between).

This poem is from Mahon’s Jaccottet Selected (Wake Forest).



Author: Tom D'Evelyn

Tom D'Evelyn is a private editor and writing tutor in Cranston RI and, thanks to the web, across the US and in the UK. He can be reached at D'Evelyn has a PhD in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley. Before retiring he held positions at The Christian Science Monitor, Harvard University Press, Boston University and Brown University. He ran a literary agency for ten years, publishing books by Leonard Nathan and Arthur Quinn, among others. Before moving to Portland OR he was managing editor at Single Island Press, Portsmouth NH. He blogs at and other sites.

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