Stevensiana

Discussion in 'Comedy & Tragedy' started by AdamSmith, Oct 4, 2016.

  1. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

  2. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

  3. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

    I
    Among twenty snowy mountains,
    The only moving thing
    Was the eye of the blackbird.

    II
    I was of three minds,
    Like a tree
    In which there are three blackbirds.

    III
    The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
    It was a small part of the pantomime.

    IV
    A man and a woman
    Are one.
    A man and a woman and a blackbird
    Are one.

    V
    I do not know which to prefer,
    The beauty of inflections
    Or the beauty of innuendoes,
    The blackbird whistling
    Or just after.

    VI
    Icicles filled the long window
    With barbaric glass.
    The shadow of the blackbird
    Crossed it, to and fro.
    The mood
    Traced in the shadow
    An indecipherable cause.

    VII
    O thin men of Haddam,
    Why do you imagine golden birds?
    Do you not see how the blackbird
    Walks around the feet
    Of the women about you?

    VIII
    I know noble accents
    And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
    But I know, too,
    That the blackbird is involved
    In what I know.

    IX
    When the blackbird flew out of sight,
    It marked the edge
    Of one of many circles.

    X
    At the sight of blackbirds
    Flying in a green light,
    Even the bawds of euphony
    Would cry out sharply.

    XI
    He rode over Connecticut
    In a glass coach.
    Once, a fear pierced him,
    In that he mistook
    The shadow of his equipage
    For blackbirds.

    XII
    The river is moving.
    The blackbird must be flying.

    XIII
    It was evening all afternoon.
    It was snowing
    And it was going to snow.
    The blackbird sat
    In the cedar-limbs.
     
  4. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    The Man on the Dump
    By Wallace Stevens

    Day creeps down. The moon is creeping up.
    The sun is a corbeil of flowers the moon Blanche
    Places there, a bouquet. Ho-ho ... The dump is full
    Of images. Days pass like papers from a press.
    The bouquets come here in the papers. So the sun,
    And so the moon, both come, and the janitor’s poems
    Of every day, the wrapper on the can of pears,
    The cat in the paper-bag, the corset, the box
    From Esthonia: the tiger chest, for tea.

    The freshness of night has been fresh a long time.
    The freshness of morning, the blowing of day, one says
    That it puffs as Cornelius Nepos reads, it puffs
    More than, less than or it puffs like this or that.
    The green smacks in the eye, the dew in the green
    Smacks like fresh water in a can, like the sea
    On a cocoanut—how many men have copied dew
    For buttons, how many women have covered themselves
    With dew, dew dresses, stones and chains of dew, heads
    Of the floweriest flowers dewed with the dewiest dew.
    One grows to hate these things except on the dump.

    Now, in the time of spring (azaleas, trilliums,
    Myrtle, viburnums, daffodils, blue phlox),
    Between that disgust and this, between the things
    That are on the dump (azaleas and so on)
    And those that will be (azaleas and so on),
    One feels the purifying change. One rejects
    The trash.

    That’s the moment when the moon creeps up
    To the bubbling of bassoons. That’s the time
    One looks at the elephant-colorings of tires.
    Everything is shed; and the moon comes up as the moon
    (All its images are in the dump) and you see
    As a man (not like an image of a man),
    You see the moon rise in the empty sky.

    One sits and beats an old tin can, lard pail.
    One beats and beats for that which one believes.
    That’s what one wants to get near. Could it after all
    Be merely oneself, as superior as the ear
    To a crow’s voice? Did the nightingale torture the ear,
    Peck the heart and scratch the mind? And does the ear
    Solace itself in peevish birds? Is it peace,
    Is it a philosopher’s honeymoon, one finds
    On the dump? Is it to sit among mattresses of the dead,
    Bottles, pots, shoes and grass and murmur aptest eve:
    Is it to hear the blatter of grackles and say
    Invisible priest; is it to eject, to pull
    The day to pieces and cry stanza my stone?
    Where was it one first heard of the truth? The the.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2016
  5. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    Last edited: Oct 26, 2016
  6. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    In the foregoing Stevens bit you will hear the famous Harvard accent. Contrast with the Yale accent, bodied forth with 100% fidelity by one William F. Buckley :rolleyes:

    The Jale accent is precisely how your Tarheel hick AS speaks aloud today. :D

    I often get asked, from my pronunciation patterns (I still can't figure it out), "Are you Belgian?"
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2016
  7. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    See, this was a part of Stevens's genius: to see how to write poems that simply could not be declaimed in a voice-box-produced voice.

    They were poems for the mind's ear alone (his own phrase.)
     
  8. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    Referenced above. Seasonally apt meditation on growing older, the northern lights as central imaginative figure, imaged in the first canto as a serpent sinuously weaving about in the sky. Contains some of my favorite lines in all of literature.

    The Auroras of Autumn

    I

    This is where the serpent lives, the bodiless.
    His head is air. Beneath his tip at night
    Eyes open and fix on us in every sky.

    Or is this another wriggling out of the egg,
    Another image at the end of the cave,
    Another bodiless for the body's slough?

    This is where the serpent lives. This is his nest,
    These fields, these hills, these tinted distances,
    And the pines above and along and beside the sea.

    This is form gulping after formlessness,
    Skin flashing to wished-for disappearances
    And the serpent body flashing without the skin.

    This is the height emerging and its base
    These lights may finally attain a pole
    In the midmost midnight and find the serpent there,

    In another nest, the master of the maze
    Of body and air and forms and images,
    Relentlessly in possession of happiness.

    This is his poison: that we should disbelieve
    Even that. His meditations in the ferns,
    When he moved so slightly to make sure of sun,

    Made us no less as sure. We saw in his head,
    Black beaded on the rock, the flecked animal,
    The moving grass, the Indian in his glade.


    II

    Farewell to an idea . . . A cabin stands,
    Deserted, on a beach. It is white,
    As by a custom or according to

    An ancestral theme or as a consequence
    Of an infinite course. The flowers against the wall
    Are white, a little dried, a kind of mark

    Reminding, trying to remind, of a white
    That was different, something else, last year
    Or before, not the white of an aging afternoon,

    Whether fresher or duller, whether of winter cloud
    Or of winter sky, from horizon to horizon.
    The wind is blowing the sand across the floor.

    Here, being visible is being white,
    Is being of the solid of white, the accomplishment
    Of an extremist in an exercise . . .

    The season changes. A cold wind chills the beach.
    The long lines of it grow longer, emptier,
    A darkness gathers though it does not fall

    And the whiteness grows less vivid on the wall.
    The man who is walking turns blankly on the sand.
    He observes how the north is always enlarging the change,

    With its frigid brilliances, its blue-red sweeps
    And gusts of great enkindlings, its polar green,
    The color of ice and fire and solitude.


    III

    Farewell to an idea . . . The mother's face,
    The purpose of the poem, fills the room.
    They are together, here, and it is warm,

    With none of the prescience of oncoming dreams.
    It is evening. The house is evening, half dissolved.
    Only the half they can never possess remains,

    Still-starred. It is the mother they possess,
    Who gives transparence to their present peace.
    She makes that gentler that can gentle be.

    And yet she too is dissolved, she is destroyed.
    She gives transparence. But she has grown old.
    The necklace is a carving not a kiss.

    The soft hands are a motion not a touch.
    The house will crumble and the books will burn.
    They are at ease in a shelter of the mind

    And the house is of the mind and they and time,
    Together, all together. Boreal night
    Will look like frost as it approaches them

    And to the mother as she falls asleep
    And as they say good-night, good-night. Upstairs
    The windows will be lighted, not the rooms.

    A wind will spread its windy grandeurs round
    And knock like a rifle-butt against the door.
    The wind will command them with invincible sound.


    IV

    Farewell to an idea . . . The cancellings,
    The negations are never final. The father sits
    In space, wherever he sits, of bleak regard,

    As one that is strong in the bushes of his eyes.
    He says no to no and yes to yes. He says yes
    To no; and in saying yes he says farewell.

    He measures the velocities of change.
    He leaps from heaven to heaven more rapidly
    Than bad angels leap from heaven to hell in flames.

    But now he sits in quiet and green-a-day.
    He assumes the great speeds of space and flutters them
    From cloud to cloudless, cloudless to keen clear

    In flights of eye and ear, the highest eye
    And the lowest ear, the deep ear that discerns,
    At evening, things that attend it until it hears

    The supernatural preludes of its own,
    At the moment when the angelic eye defines
    Its actors approaching, in company, in their masks.

    Master O master seated by the fire
    And yet in space and motionless and yet
    Of motion the ever-brightening origin,

    Profound, and yet the king and yet the crown,
    Look at this present throne. What company,
    In masks, can choir it with the naked wind?


    V

    The mother invites humanity to her house
    And table. The father fetches tellers of tales
    And musicians who mute much, muse much, on the tales.

    The father fetches negresses to dance,
    Among the children, like curious ripenesses
    Of pattern in the dance's ripening.

    For these the musicians make insidious tones,
    Clawing the sing-song of their instruments.
    The children laugh and jangle a tinny time.

    The father fetches pageants out of air,
    Scenes of the theatre, vistas and blocks of woods
    And curtains like a naive pretence of sleep.

    Among these the musicians strike the instinctive poem.
    The father fetches his unherded herds,
    Of barbarous tongue, slavered and panting halves

    Of breath, obedient to his trumpet's touch.
    This then is Chatillon or as you please.
    We stand in the tumult of a festival.

    What festival? This loud, disordered mooch?
    These hospitaliers? These brute-like guests?
    These musicians dubbing at a tragedy,

    A-dub, a-dub, which is made up of this:
    That there are no lines to speak? There is no play.
    Or, the persons act one merely by being here.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2016
  9. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    VI

    It is a theatre floating through the clouds,
    Itself a cloud, although of misted rock
    And mountains running like water, wave on wave,

    Through waves of light. It is of cloud transformed
    To cloud transformed again, idly, the way
    A season changes color to no end,

    Except the lavishing of itself in change,
    As light changes yellow into gold and gold
    To its opal elements and fire's delight,

    Splashed wide-wise because it likes magnificence
    And the solemn pleasures of magnificent space
    The cloud drifts idly through half-thought-of forms.

    The theatre is filled with flying birds,
    Wild wedges, as of a volcano's smoke, palm-eyed
    And vanishing, a web in a corridor

    Or massive portico. A capitol,
    It may be, is emerging or has just
    Collapsed. The denouement has to be postponed . . .

    This is nothing until in a single man contained,
    Nothing until this named thing nameless is
    And is destroyed. He opens the door of his house

    On flames. The scholar of one candle sees
    An Arctic effulgence flaring on the frame
    Of everything he is. And he feels afraid.


    VII

    Is there an imagination that sits enthroned
    As grim as it is benevolent, the just
    And the unjust, which in the midst of summer stops

    To imagine winter? When the leaves are dead,
    Does it take its place in the north and enfold itself,
    Goat-leaper, crystalled and luminous, sitting

    In highest night? And do these heavens adorn
    And proclaim it, the white creator of black, jetted
    By extinguishings, even of planets as may be,

    Even of earth, even of sight, in snow,
    Except as needed by way of majesty,
    In the sky, as crown and diamond cabala?

    It leaps through us, through all our heavens leaps,
    Extinguishing our planets, one by one,
    Leaving, of where we were and looked, of where

    We knew each other and of each other thought,
    A shivering residue, chilled and foregone,
    Except for that crown and mystical cabala.

    But it dare not leap by chance in its own dark.
    It must change from destiny to slight caprice.
    And thus its jetted tragedy, its stele

    And shape and mournful making move to find
    What must unmake it and, at last, what can,
    Say, a flippant communication under the moon.


    VIII

    There may be always a time of innocence.
    There is never a place. Or if there is no time,
    If it is not a thing of time, nor of place,

    Existing in the idea of it, alone,
    In the sense against calamity, it is not
    Less real. For the oldest and coldest philosopher,

    There is or may be a time of innocence
    As pure principle. Its nature is its end,
    That it should be, and yet not be, a thing

    That pinches the pity of the pitiful man,
    Like a book at evening beautiful but untrue,
    Like a book on rising beautiful and true.

    It is like a thing of ether that exists
    Almost as predicate. But it exists,
    It exists, it is visible, it is, it is.

    So, then, these lights are not a spell of light,
    A saying out of a cloud, but innocence.
    An innocence of the earth and no false sign

    Or symbol of malice. That we partake thereof,
    Lie down like children in this holiness,
    As if, awake, we lay in the quiet of sleep,

    As if the innocent mother sang in the dark
    Of the room and on an accordion, half-heard,
    Created the time and place in which we breathed . . .


    IX

    And of each other thought—in the idiom
    Of the work, in the idiom of an innocent earth,
    Not of the enigma of the guilty dream.

    We were as Danes in Denmark all day long
    And knew each other well, hale-hearted landsmen,
    For whom the outlandish was another day

    Of the week, queerer than Sunday. We thought alike
    And that made brothers of us in a home
    In which we fed on being brothers, fed

    And fattened as on a decorous honeycomb.
    This drama that we live—We lay sticky with sleep.
    This sense of the activity of fate—

    The rendezvous, when she came alone,
    By her coming became a freedom of the two,
    An isolation which only the two could share.

    Shall we be found hanging in the trees next spring?
    Of what disaster in this the imminence:
    Bare limbs, bare trees and a wind as sharp as salt?

    The stars are putting on their glittering belts.
    They throw around their shoulders cloaks that flash
    Like a great shadow's last embellishment.

    It may come tomorrow in the simplest word,
    Almost as part of innocence, almost,
    Almost as the tenderest and the truest part.


    X

    An unhappy people in a happy world—
    Read, rabbi, the phases of this difference.
    An unhappy people in an unhappy world—

    Here are too many mirrors for misery.
    A happy people in an unhappy world—
    It cannot be. There's nothing there to roll

    On the expressive tongue, the finding fang.
    A happy people in a happy world—
    Buffo! A ball, an opera, a bar.

    Turn back to where we were when we began:
    An unhappy people in a happy world.
    Now, solemnize the secretive syllables.

    Read to the congregation, for today
    And for tomorrow, this extremity,
    This contrivance of the spectre of the spheres,

    Contriving balance to contrive a whole,
    The vital, the never-failing genius,
    Fulfilling his meditations, great and small.


    In these unhappy he meditates a whole,
    The full of fortune and the full of fate,
    As if he lived all lives, that he might know,

    In hall harridan, not hushful paradise,
    To a haggling of wind and weather, by these lights
    Like a blaze of summer straw, in winter's nick.
     
  10. mike carey

    mike carey Marquess

    @AdamSmith, the all sleeper train from Sydney to Melbourne, when it ran years ago, was the Southern Aurora. When I think of the lights in the sky I think Aurora Australis rather than Borealis.
     
    AdamSmith likes this.
  11. Rod Hagen

    Rod Hagen Count

    John Ashbery collected some great Pierre Reverdy in "Complete Poems". Here's an audio interview about it.

    http://www.kcrw.com/news-culture/sh...nd-ron-padgett-on-the-works-of-pierre-reverdy

    And in that interview you can hear him read from my fav.
    "Litany"
    May it please the shower of gold to cover me, for I am cold from soft metal.
    May it please the shower of gold to cover me, for I am cold from soft metal.
    May it please the shower of water to cover me, for I have faith of metamorphoses.
    May it please the shower of water to cover me, for I have faith of metamorphoses.
    May it please the harsh idea to nourish me, for I thirst after my false loves.
    May it please the harsh idea to nourish me, for I thirst after my false loves.
    May it please the afternoon to suffice me, for I have had too much of my dark days.
    May it please the afternoon to suffice me, for I have had too much of my dark days.
    May it please the near year to open for me, for I have knocked at its door in vain.
    May it please the near year to open for me, for I have knocked at its door in vain.
    May it please the calm sea to swell, for I have trapped too many sea lice.
    May it please the calm sea to swell, for I have trapped too many sea lice.
    May it please the incarnate soul to show itself, for I have believed in the incarnate soul.
    May it please the incarnate soul to show itself, for I have believed in the incarnate soul.
    May it please the closed fist to show itself, for I have drawn a rusty blade.
    May it please the closed fist to show itself, for I have drawn a rusty blade.
    May it please the lover, the loved, to lie to itself, for I have known the weight of the lie.
    May it please the lover, the loved, to lie to itself, for I have known the weight of the lie.
    May it please the man in tears to bruise himself, I’ve howled the cry of my dreams.
    May it please the man in tears to bruise himself, I’ve howled the cry of my dreams.
    -Pierre Martory
     
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  12. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco