The Opening of the Field

Speaking of his own work, Robert Duncan (1919-1987) said: “I make poetry as other men make war or make love or make states or revolutions: to exercise my faculties at large.” The Opening of the Field, his first major collection, was originally brought out in 1960; in it, Duncan introduced his “Structures of Rime,” the open series he continued in his subsequent collections, Roots and Branches (1964) andBending the Bow (1968), Ground Work: Before the War (1983), and Ground Work II: In the Dark (1987). “Structures of Rime” affirms his belief in the universal integrity of the poem itself in the living process of language. Thus in “The Structure of Rime I” he declares: “O Lasting Sentence, / sentence after sentence I make in your image. In the feet that measure the dance of my pages I hear cosmic intoxications of the man I will be.”