Lie down on the bright hill with the moon’s hand on your cheek, your flesh deep in the white folds of your dress, and you will not hear the passionate mole extending the length of his darkness, or the owl arranging all of the night, which is his wisdom, or the poem filling your pillow with its blue feathers. But if you step out of your dress and move into the shade, the mole will find you, so will the owl, and so will the poem, and you will fall into another darkness, one you will find yourself making and remaking until it is perfect. Mark Strand, ‘The Dress’, 1995. In the above poem Mark Strand uses the metaphor of a dress to explore the self in the writing process. The dress, with its white folds, conjures up reason and orderliness, correct comportment in the world. As such, it is an impediment to the creative process; it interferes with the poet’s necessary contact with the more unruly unconscious, here represented by the night and the creatures intensely going about their business in the darkness. Sloughing off the dress removes the impediment, frees the body-self, thus making possible a deeper engagement with the unconscious. Only then can the real creative work begin in earnest.
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