Tuesday, May 10, 2011

it is finished, 1711.

I have this poem, that I'm pretty happy with, that's about St. Paul's Cathedral in London. Actually, I have three poems about St. Paul's. And they are all called "Psalmist at St. Paul's" because for some reason no one likes the word peregrine.

But that's not what I came here to say.

The first St. Paul's poem is a bit of a history recitation. St. Paul's was built, destroyed, rinse, repeat, at least four times. The last time it was built they started in 1675, designed by Sir Christopher Wren. It's the St. Paul's that is still standing. After twenty-two years, they were able to hold services. In 1711, they (I'm not sure who they are) declared the structure complete. And ten years after that they were still adding statues of the apostles to the roof, etc.

The poem plays with this idea of what it means to be "finished," arguing in the end that St. Paul's can't be completely finished until people come and experience the building, all of the building. The first two times I was in London I went to St. Paul's. I took the tour. I marveled. I'm an excellent marvel-er. But the third time, I went up. To the Whispering Gallery, and then the Stone Gallery. And that was the first time I'd ever been to St. Paul's. From the Stone Gallery, you have a view of London that I would argue is better than the view of Paris from the Eiffel Tower. (I kind of hate the Eiffel Tower.)

Why am I telling you this now, four years after I climbed the steps of St. Paul's? Because this idea of finishing is very real tonight. I just put together the title page and table of contents for my thesis. It's done. And it's been done before--when I had written enough poems, when I revised those poems, when I compiled those poems, when I arranged the manuscript. And now it's finished again. And I still have a good twelve-or-so pages to write for it to be a full length manuscript.

I'm not sure a manuscript is ever finished. Because even if it's ever published, it won't be finished until it has a reader. And that journey will be completed every time a new reader comes to the poems. And then where do they go from there?

It's exciting to be at this point. I have a thesis. I'm going to graduate. But it's just as exciting--maybe even more exciting--to think about what comes next.

If you'll excuse me, I think I have a poem to write.


Lekili said...

Can't wait to be one of the first readers to finish the journey with your manuscript.

I am so totally proud of what you have accomplished and so excited for the next chapter to unfold.

erin said...

I want to read your poems about St. Paul's. Will you share?

Lisa D said...

A thesis? How cool is that!

Aislin said...

Love this post, these ideas. You might try The Ball and the Cross by G.K. Chesterton for some wonderful thoughts and scenes at St. Pauls.

Anna B said...

yay!!! i'm so excited to read your thesis. you are incredible!

Paula said...

Stark raving fantabulous--that's all I can say about the niece I've known was brilliant since she was 3. Love you and am so happy for you!It will be so nice to have you back in Utah!

Annie said...

I am a marvel-er, of you.


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