Whenever I begin to write a poem I seem to start ‘outside’ with ideas, jotted words and phrases, possible titles, epitaphs, etc. At some point, the mediative brooding before the blank page or screen ‘carries’ me into what I would call the ‘world’ of the poem.
This ‘world’ is a place of possibility, decision-making, and problem-solving involving words, rhymes, the rhythmic base of the poem and variations on this base, symbols and metaphors, questions of sound, the settling into a verse form. etc.
I find that I can normally go about 2 and 1/2 lines before selecting a rhyming pattern and a verse form — sonnet or abab quatrain stanzas, couplets, blank verse, etc.
This ‘world’ of the poem is a place of ‘suspension’ in which all of the elements of verse-writing play off one another, all influencing one another, with me as poet partly in control and partly going with what these elements themselves suggest. Their ‘will’ and mine must reach some kind of stasis and a state of resolution and completion. These elements write their own poem as much as I do.
Eventually, the poet ‘withdraws’ from this ‘world’ and the poem is ‘born’ and on its own.
My frequent use of quotation marks in these comments suggests that this is a mysterious process that, being about words, is hard to put into words with any final exactitude — like the mind thinking about the mind.