For a while now I have been revisiting poems I had abandoned years ago because they weren't successful, and I hadn't been able to get them right. I have been surprised, by my standards at least, how good many of them are, and it hasn't been difficult to put them right where needed, to give them new life. To the extent that some of them have been accepted by good magazines. In fact, one of them is due out in next month's issue of Acumen.
This has made me wonder why I had abandoned them in the first place, and has reminded me what a subjective business writing and evaluating what you have written is. When you are in the heat of it it is not always easy to see what is of value. I suppose also, that the passing of time makes it easier to spot what was needed to put them right, and hopefully one's skills in identifying what works and what doesn't, improve as you continue to write.
The thing about this process of revisiting and revising is that I am now horrified by the thought that I might never have gone back to earlier poems to do it, and a lot of poems, and the effort that went into creating them in the first place, would have been wasted. Whatever else, I'm sure that at the end of this project, and there are hundreds of poems to look through, my poetic output will have increased, and I like to think that its overall quality will have gained significantly.
So, the point of this is, never destroy past failures until you are absolutely certain that they are beyond redemption. It may be that what you were struggling to say then is now much easier to accomplish. It may also be that some of the imagery that you had been unable to master was in fact powerful, and of a level of originality that you did not know what to do with straight off. It wasn't possible to understand precisely what you were saying, and how best to say it. That didn't mean it was a mistake, or not worth saying. I think that is true of some of the poems I have revised.
Perhaps there is no such thing as failure, and failures are only staging posts to a success that is not immediately obvious.