Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)
These are quotes and verses from another dead white guy who had a classical Western oriented education. I doubt he is looked at anymore and that makes this a much poorer world.
Can you equal any of these lines? Especially this first quote? Just 13 words. You could write an entire book based on these 13 words. It is a line that defies an intellectual explanation, yet we intuitively know that the thought is perfect and correct:
A poet looks at the world as a man looks at a woman.
A poem should be part of one’s sense of life.
A poem is a meteor.
The world is a force, not a presence.
To a large extent, the problems of poets are the problems of painters, and poets must often turn to the literature of painting for a discussion of their own problems.
Opus Posthumous: Poems, Plays, Prose by Wallace Stevens, edited by Milton J. Bates, 1990.
They said, “You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are.”
The man replied, “Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar.”
Poetry is the subject of the poem.
“The Man With The Blue Guitar” University of Pennsylvania page – excerpts (external link)
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.
“Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” Poetry Foundation (external link)
Editor’s note. Look at the German mystic and poet Rilke if you liked Blackbird (internal link)
The colors of their tails
Were like the leaves themselves
Turning in the wind,
In the twilight wind.
They swept over the room,
Just as they flew from the boughs of the hemlocks
Down to the ground.
I heard them cry — the peacocks.
Was it a cry against the twilight
Or against the leaves themselves
Turning in the wind,
Turning as the flames
Turned in the fire,
Turning as the tails of the peacocks
Turned in the loud fire,
Loud as the hemlocks
Full of the cry of the peacocks?
Or was it a cry against the hemlocks?
“Domination of Black” PoemHunter.com (external link)
Editor’s note. Look to the master translator of Chinese and Japanese poetry Kenneth Rexroth if you liked Domination of Black. (internal link)
The death of one god is the death of all.
The poem refreshes life so that we share,
For a moment, the first idea . . . It satisfies
Belief in an immaculate beginning
And sends us, winged by an unconscious will,
To an immaculate end. We move between these points:
From that ever-early candor to its late plural
And the candor of them is the strong exhilaration
Of what we feel from what we think, of thought
Beating in the heart, as if blood newly came,
An elixir, an excitation, a pure power.
The poem, through candor, brings back a power again
That gives a candid kind to everything.
“Notes to A Supreme Fiction” Genius.com -annotated –(external link)
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