My dear friend Caroline sent me Parts of a World: Wallace Stevens Remembered, an oral biography by Peter Brazeau. I cannot put it down. For one thing, it brings back the old life, the life of my parents back in the 30's, 40's, 50's, a life that is truly lost. And it explains in a non-directive fashion who this man was, Wallace Stevens, the bond-claims lawyer who wrote such poetry, his frequently devastating sense of humor, devastating in the sense that other people often didn't get the jokes, took offense even. How did I grow so old without knowing that Stevens and Hemingway had a fist fight in which Stevens broke his hand? So musical, this Wallace:
Snow and Stars
The grackles sing avant the spring
Most spiss—oh! Yes, most spissantly.
They sing right puissantly.
This robe of snow and winter stars,
The devil take it, wear it, too.
It might become his hole of blue.
Let him remove it to his regions,
White and star-furred for his legions,
And make much bing, high bing.
It would be ransom for the willow
And fill the hill and fill it full
Of ding, ding, dong.
Brazeau has done a similar book about Elizabeth Bishop, which I've purchased to read this summer. I plan to turn into Bishop during the month of June.