Self-Portrait

By Robert Creeley 1926–2005 Robert Creeley
He wants to be
a brutal old man,
an aggressive old man,
as dull, as brutal
as the emptiness around him,

He doesn’t want compromise,   
nor to be ever nice
to anyone. Just mean,
and final in his brutal,
his total, rejection of it all.

He tried the sweet,   
the gentle, the “oh,
let’s hold hands together”
and it was awful,
dull, brutally inconsequential.

Now he’ll stand on
his own dwindling legs.   
His arms, his skin,   
shrink daily. And
he loves, but hates equally.

Robert Creeley, “Self-Portrait” from Selected Poems of Robert Creeley. Copyright © 1991 by the Regents of the University of California. Reprinted with the permission of the University of California Press, www.ucpress.edu.

Source: Selected Poems (1991)

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Poet Robert Creeley 1926–2005

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Subjects Life Choices, Growing Old, Living

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Robert  Creeley

Biography

Once known primarily for his association with the group called the “Black Mountain Poets,” at the time of his death in 2005, Robert Creeley was widely recognized as one of the most important and influential American poets of the twentieth century. His poetry is noted for both its concision and emotional power. Albert Mobilio, writing in the Voice Literary Supplement, observed: “Creeley has shaped his own audience. The much . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Life Choices, Growing Old, Living

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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