It was Ginsberg who said, "First thought is best thought"--a trusting way to look at the creative process. My beginning students often say that to me. No, we can't revise, this is the breath of inspiration.
But even Blake, who said the angels gave him his poems, even Blake revised. You can see a draft of "The Tyger" at the back of the Norton Anthology of English Literature.
I do treasure the breath of inspiration, and sometimes, rarely, a poem will arrive whole.
Mostly though, creation takes place as much in the process of revision as in that first holy breath. If the angels are speaking, they are also testing us, to see if we have the discipline to keep listening over a period of days and years.
Right now I'm revising my translations of Benjamin Peret's Le grand jeu/The Big Game. Every day I'm finding mistakes to correct, or more idiomatic and lyrical ways of saying what I need to say. Instead of being dismayed at the errors, I am trying to let go of the first draft, of the second and third drafts, and lean into the tenth draft. I'm a carpenter with a smoother today.
"I'm climbing on the stars," Peret wrote. Or was he "mounting" stars? Or was he pulling himself up star by star, syllable by glowing syllable?
Causes Marilyn Kallet Supports
Southern Poverty Law Center, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, ACLU, Amnesty International, Save Darfur.