Those blessed structures, plot and rhyme -
why are they no help to me now
I want to make
something imagined, not recalled?
I hear the noise of my own voice
The painter's vision is not a lens
it trembles to caress the light.
But sometimes everything I write
with the threadbare art of my eye
seems a snapshot,
lurid, rapid, garish, grouped,
heightened from life,
yet paralyzed by fact.
Yet why not say what happened?
Pray for the grace of accuracy
Vermeer gave to the sun's illumination
stealing like the tide across a map
to his girl solid with yearning.
We are poor passing facts,
warned by that to give
each figure in the photograph
his living name.
Collected Poems, Robert Lowell