This poem featured in the book 'All The Bright Places' which I've just finished reading (but have not finished mulling over - utterly heartbreaking and thought-provoking.) And this poem has so much food for thought - what do we leave behind us when we die? How is art a measure of what was lived? If we are just 'facts' of existence, how can there be personalities, how do we matter? Do our stories count?
Epilogue - Robert Lowell
Those blessèd 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.