When asked this question by his young son, this is what Don Paterson replied, explaining the process
of poetry in a way a child would understand.
Why Do You Stay Up So Late? - Don Paterson
I’ll tell you, if you really want to know:
remember that day you lost two years ago
at the rockpool where you sat and played the jeweler
with all those stones you’d stolen from the shore?
Most of them went dark and nothing more,
but sometimes one would blink the secret color
it had locked up somewhere in its stony sleep.
This is how you knew the ones to keep.
So I collect the dull things of the day
in which I see some possibility
but which are dead and which have the surprise
I don’t know, and I’ve no pool to help me tell -
so I look at them and look at them until
one thing makes a mirror in my eyes
then I paint it with the tear to make it bright.
This is why I sit up through the night.