Ralph Maud
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Charles Olson’s first poem
in Contemporary Olson
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Purgatory Blind' is probably what Charles Olson is referring to in a letter to Robert Creeley as 'the very 1st poem', adding that it was written in Gloucester on the Annisquam River. The poet helps to pin down the date when he later reminisces: 'Wrote my first poems / and an essay on myth / at Kent Circle'. In John Keats's 'Epistle to John Hamilton Reynolds' Olsan found: 'Lost in sort of Purgatory blind, / Cannot refer to any standard law / Of either earth or heaven'. Olson presumably felt the meaning of 'blind' as a concealed place of waiting was appropriate to his condition and the draft as he then revised it. It is the draft rather than the revision which offers a better and more accurate candidate for consideration as Olson's first poem.

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