The ancient Greeks often greeted one another with “Where have you come from and where are you going?” Underlying that question is the insight that origin is a source and also a point of departure, where we start but also what we leave behind. So for me the definitive moment in Jared Carter’s work is not his most famous line, the last line of “The Purpose of Poetry,” in which the poem’s speaker declares that “The purpose of poetry is to tell us about life,” but the moment in the last stanza of “Mourning Doves” when the speaker says to his beloved, “… it is out of not knowing that I brush away / strands of hair from your face, and begin to kiss / your eyes, your lips….”
Poetry, like love, does come out of not knowing, in all the ways one might mean that. It originates in not knowing, and also, no less importantly, departs from — leaves behind — not knowing.
Carter, Jared. Darkened Rooms of Summer: New and Selected Poems. Univ. of Nebraska Press, 2014.