17 March 2005

Wallace, are you listening?

I promised to write an imitation of Stevens's "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" by today, and great news -- I did. It's not ready for viewing, but a poem sits there on the page, and a later walk down Diamond Head beach gave me ideas for revision. Interesting that Stevens studs his poem with concrete nouns (blackbird, snow, mountains, eye, tree, winds, icicles, window, glass) and uses few active verbs. Among his abstract nouns, some of my favorite words in the poem: pantomime, inflections and innuendoes, bawds and euphony (both in the same line!), equipage.

Meanwhile, here's the Wallace Stevens poem of the day from The Auroras of Autumn. My faithful blog readers already know how I feel about any poem that contains an elephant.

Puella Parvula

Every thread of summer is at last unwoven.
By one caterpillar is great Africa devoured
And Gibraltar is dissolved like spit in the wind.

But over the wind, over the legends of its roaring,
The elephant on the roof and its elephantine blaring,
The bloody lion in the yard at night or ready to spring

From clouds in the midst of trembling trees
Making a great gnashing, over the water wallows
Of a vacant sea declaiming with wide throat,

Over all these the mighty imagination triumphs
Like a trumpet and says, in this season of memory,
When the leaves fall like things mournful of the past,

Keep quiet in the heart, O wild bitch. O mind
Gone wild, be what he tells you to be: Puella.
Write pax across the window pane. And then

Be still. The summarium in excelsis begins . . .
Flame, sound, fury composed . . . Hear what he says,
The dauntless master, as he starts the human tale.

[Latin: puella = girl; parvula = very small]

1 comment:

  1. Love Stevens! I did a take on "Blackbird" back in the day... I'll see if I can't dig it up and send it to you. Windmill instead of blackbird, fyi.

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