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Wallace Stevens (1879 – 1955)

American poet and businessman.
Wallace Stevens
It may be dismissed, on the one hand, as a commonplace aesthetic satisfaction: and, on the other hand, if we say that the idea of God is merely a poetic idea, even if the supreme poetic idea, and that our notions of heaven and hell are merely poetry not so called, even if poetry that involves us vitally, the feeling of deliverance, of a release, of a perfection touched, of a vocation so that all men may know the truth and that the truth may set them free if we say these things and if we are able to see the poet who achieved God and placed Him in His seat in heaven in all His glory, the poet himself, still in the ecstasy of the poem that completely accomplished its purpose, would have seemed, whether young or old, whether in rags or ceremonial robe, a man who needed what he had created, uttering the hymns of joy that followed his creation. This may be a gross exaggeration of a very simple matter. But perhaps the same is true of many of the more prodigious things of life and death.
Stevens quotes
Like a page of music, like an upper air,
Like a momentary color, in which swans
Were seraphs, were saints, were changing essences.
That tuft of jungle feathers,
That animal eye,
Is just what you say.

Stevens Wallace quotes
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?
Stevens Wallace
We live in an old chaos of the sun,
Or an old dependency of day and night,
Or island solitude, unsponsored, free,
Of that wide water, inescapable.
Deer walk upon our mountains, and quail
Whistle about us their spontaneous cries;
Sweet berries ripen in the wilderness;
And, in the isolation of the sky,
At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make
Ambiguous undulations as they sink,
Downward to darkness, on extended wings.
Wallace Stevens quotes
This will make widows wince. But fictive things
Wink as they will. Wink most when widows wince.
Wallace Stevens
A diary is more or less the work of a man of clay whose hands are clumsy and in whose eyes there is no light.
Stevens Wallace quotes
The world about us would be desolate except for the world within us.
After the final no there comes a yes
And on that yes the future world depends.
No was the night. Yes is this present sun.
Stevens Wallace
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month's newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.
Wallace Stevens
Gloomy grammarians in golden gowns,
Meekly you keep the mortal rendezvous,
Eliciting the still sustaining pomps
Of speech which are like music so profound
They seem an exaltation without sound.

Wallace Stevens quotes
Apotheosis is not
The origin of the major man. He comes,
Wallace Stevens
The imagination is the power that enables us to perceive the normal in the abnormal, the opposite of chaos in chaos.
Stevens quotes
He is and may be but oh! He is, he is,
This foundling of the infected past, so bright,
So moving in the manner of his hand.
Stevens Wallace
Without a name and nothing to be desired,
If only imagined but imagined well.
Stevens Wallace quotes
Twenty men crossing a bridge,
Into a village,
Are twenty men crossing twenty bridges,
Into twenty villages,
Or one man
Crossing a single bridge into a village.
Wallace Stevens
Stevens' way of informing us comes in language and imagery so radically different from previous times that it is difficult to recognize exactly what he means. But throughout his poetry he speaks, like the mystics, primarily of the nature of our relationship with the universe. He continually circles back to the idea that we actively participate in what the world looks like and what it means. Although cast in modern terms, this idea is profoundly spiritual and moral.
Since he gives no evidence of any direct visionary experience, it's not possible to say Stevens is a "mystic" or a "contemplative" poet. But he is a major figure in modern poetry because he synthesizes the concerns of the modern world the emphasis on the human self as maker of meaning, the emphasis on scientific rationality, the emphasis on creating new forms to replace outmoded beliefs with the perennial concerns of the human spirit. To find meaning, or the good or by implication, God we need to radically adjust our conception of reality. This takes powerful acts of individual imagination, and the possibilities are immense... Contrary to all appearances, to the difficulty of his verse, and to the preoccupied, distracted interpretations of contemporary critics, Wallace Stevens' poetry is a profoundly spiritual force. Anyone interested in the spiritual problems of modern humans must reckon with it.
Wallace Stevens quotes
Bethou me, said sparrow, to the crackled blade,
And you, and you, bethou me as you blow,
When in my coppice you behold me be.
Wallace Stevens
The swarm of thoughts, the swarm of dreams
Of inaccessible Utopia.
A mountainous music always seemed
To be falling and to be passing away.
Stevens Wallace
Slowly the ivy on the stones
Becomes the stones. Women become
The cities, children become the fields
And men in waves become the sea.

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