WHAT makes a good poem, a complete poem? If asked this question, I should say that a poem is something made as well as something said.
It is not merely a gush of images, however vivid.
The something made reinforces the something said.
Nor is it a piece of prose masquerading as a poem.
A true poem has coherence and shapeliness.
At its best it does what it says.
Since this is my aim and ideal as a poet, my own poems should demonstrate it. I think they do, and they show some of the ways poems reach this ideal, ways both conventional and unconventional.
Briefly, I want the poet to be an artist.
It is a delight to see Robert Francis once again in The Home Forum, to which he contributed so richly in earlier days. We invited him to write a few words about poetry to accompany a few of his poems. They are part of a body of work that continues to grow after a dozen books over half a century, and that has won many awards, including last year's Academy of American Poets' fellowship of $10,000 for ``distinguished poetic achievement.''
The four poems on this page are reprinted from ``Robert Francis: Collected Poems, 1936-1976'' (The University of Massachusetts Press, 1976) copyright 1944, 1949, 1960, 1972 by Robert Francis.