How do you know when a poem is finished?
There is no one answer to this. I have read that it took Elisabeth Bishop 23 years to finish her poem “Moose”. Which seems astonishing but it’s not really. I’m sure most poets could go back through their published and unpublished work and find many ways of improving it with judicious editing. The only poems I would consider finished are those that arrive like a sudden gold coin dropped by the gods in front of you, poems so rightly themselves that it would seem like travesty to change anything. They’re very rare. Most poems, including my own, require a good deal of work to get them ‘right’. And even after that they could still be improved. And I am never sure when any of my poems are ‘finished’. I’ll be working on them until I’m finished myself!