— Conrad Aiken
, Context: I think Ushant describes it pretty well, with that epigraph from Tom Brown’s School Days: “I’m the poet of White Horse Vale, sir, with Liberal notions under my cap!” For some reason those lines stuck in my head, and I’ve never forgotten them. This image became something I had to be. … I compelled myself all through to write an exercise in verse, in a different form, every day of the year. I turned out my page every day, of some sort — I mean I didn’t give a damn about the meaning, I just wanted to master the form — all the way from free verse, Walt Whitman, to the most elaborate of villanelles and ballad forms. Very good training. I’ve always told everybody who has ever come to me that I thought that was the first thing to do. And to study all the vowel effects and all the consonant effects and the variation in vowel sounds.
On his childhood inspiration to become a poet, and later studies and efforts to produce poetry.