– Notes and Quotes –
Modern American Poetry
Hart Crane, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams
William Carlos Williams – Objective Ideal, Distinctive Traditions
– “The poet thinks with the poem.”
Hart Crane – Visionary Ideal, Distinctive Traditions, ecstatic
“As silent as a mirror is believed”
“It is to be learned-”
“Spends out himself again”
the wilderness of language, moving outward
“Twice and twice” eidolon, double
comprehension as inattention
“Unwhispering mirror” Loud? Soft?
“Drop by caustic drop…some constant…”
sometimes constant, sometimes also constant
“Relentless caper for all those who step”
Sunday Morning Apples
“The leaves will fall again sometime and fall”
sequence too numerous
“The fleece of nature with those purposes”
faith makes art true
“That are your rich and faithful strength of line”
“In that ripe nude with head…reared”
image obliterates itself
disappears into white space
Crane disappears from poem
“From whiteness that cries defiance to the snow”
coming out of stillness from whiteness
“A boy runs with a dog before the sun straddling”
“I have seen the apples…
… there that toss you secrets,-”
closed system, like prayer
“…seasonable madness” private meaning?
“explosion-” purpose of life
no sum/totality, but ecstasy
ends with exclamation (!), clear, transparent
“We make our meek adjustments”
series of intersections
collage of high/low/pop/elite cultures, of idioms
high minded IRONY
Crane – not ironic, looking for sincere and credible, w/o irony
making a SPACE for emotions
“Contented with such random constellations”
the poem dances
“A famished kitten on the step…”
“Dally the doom of that inevitable thumb”
idiomatic and colloquial language
“The game enforces smirks; but we have seen”
Crane says it because he’s seen it
“Have you heard a kitten in the WILDERNESS…”
mixing cultures, restores WILDNESS to poem, post civilization
Two wildnesses – one which knows, one which doesn’t know
passionate, sophisticated, undoing the irony, impenetrable, silly
finding way to the next WILDERNESS
candor – willingness to embarrass oneself
“Where the ceder leaf divides the sky”
Poem opens a space
a sense of CITE
“I was promised an improved infancy”
“My memory left in a ravine, -”
“It is not long, it is not long;”
“What fountains did I hear? What icy speeches?”
Poem leaves poem
a vehicle transported to NEW and WILDERNESS
“Invariably when wine redeems the sight”
WILDNESS with vision
Poem – defenseless, finds new place/wilderness/vision
redemption comes with wildness
Poem – sight, place, local, meaning and location
Line 29 – “New thresholds, new anatomies! Wine talons”
expansion of the mind, affiliated
“Rise from the dates and crumbs. And walk away,”
“- And folds your exile on your back again;
Petrushka’s valentine pivots on its pin”
banished to the new
“Above the fresh ruffles of the surf”
kids playing on a beach
a threshold to be transgressed
to go, to depart, to voyage
“O brilliant kids, frisk with your dog,”
“…; but there is a line
You must not cross…”
to love is to transgress
“The bottom of the sea is cruel”
saved by coherence of last line
“Mark how her turning shoulders wind the hours…”
ambiguities abolished by…
“…sleep, death, desire”
Poem – made from the other side of death
voyage – not about arriving
love – not a closed system
“Is answered in the vortex of our grave”
die into this love
“The seal’s wide spindrift gaze toward paradise”
Findrinny! – new nature
“no earthly shore”
“Infinity consanguinity it bears – “
biology of new nature
love it or be-lieve it
“Light wrestling there incessantly with light,…”
“Permit me voyage, love, into your hands…”
Poems – hard to find “beloved”
“Whose counted smile of hours and days, suppose…”
“’Nothing like this in the world,’ you say”
lover addressing loved while sleeping
love/experience – isolating
Poem – not read, but overheard
sentenced to prose
“- Thy derelict and blinded guest”
love made me not a two, but none
in habit of conventions, not reality
“The imagined Word, it is, that holds”
beloved/loved – something
words/meaning – same thing
“Whose accent no farewell can know”
absolute modernism – to have experience, one must have a new nature
The Brooklyn Bridge
“How many dawns, chill from his rippling rest”
shameless & delighted in combinging languages
with plenty of SPACE, there’s no need for eternity
motion flows, fast movement
bridge connects without bring specific placement
condensing not SPACE, but TIME
Bridge – a threshold
becoming free, the bridge stays, a slave to the city
cables appear harpish
narrow portion of ocean
freedom confines, liberty is unconfines
“As obscure as the heaven of Jews,…
Vibrant reprieve and pardon thou dost show…”
a reprieve from eternity
“The city’s fiery parcels all undone”
“Vaulting the sea, the prairies’ of dreaming sod,”
salvation via immensity, outward, not upward
“Stick your patent name on a sign board”
velocity of stanza makes meaning
blasting by while sitting in train or car
SPEED of TIME annihilating SPACE
getting from place to place w/o catching the entirety of the message
Crane goes faster to recover TIME & SPACE
“20th Century Limited” – a train
Then the language begins to slow down
Three men walking (wise men), slowly, down a road
TIME – a machine, the train, waring with the sanctity of SPACE
The human is left in SPACE
Human SPACE vs. Machine TIME
“Time’s rendings, time’s blendings…”
“…spreading dry shingles of a beard…”
cacophony of leisure
bums, hobos remembering places
the last holdout for SPACE
in culture held hostage to time
language (spatial reality) behaves differently in SPACE
Crane – accepts in all
occupies SPACE rather than crossing it
aware of Modern and Post-Modern
“Yet they touch something…”
“They know a body…”
“Wide rain”… “As I have trod then numerous midnights too…”
open, expansive, hard to say quickly
slowing the reader.
Reclaiming SPACE from TIME
“And past the circuit…TIME like a serpent…SPACE is the wing…”
in the garden
“Yes, turn again and sniff…” “…fee the river timelessly…”
The river consumes, not left behind
A pioneer a step ahead of TIME
seeking SPACE, walking out of history.
Notion of frontier
frontiers are no longer frontiers when conquered.
The bridge – expelling immensity, lost leisure
condemned to the restlessness of history
“the river, spreading, flows…”
no single direction of travel
freedom to take a new role
SPACE, WILDERNESS, set free from history
“No embrace opens but the stinging sea…
river lifts itself from its bed”
“…Hosannas silently below”
the river will not be kept on schedule
Driving SPACE underground!
geometry of SPACE
“Times Square…Columbus Circle”
“You’ll find the Garden in the 3rd act dead”
geometry replaced garden
“Then let you…for what time slays”
verticality of the city slays horizontal of the garden
“A brisk ten blocks…the quickest promise home”
getting home faster with less memory
“Be minimum…press the coin into the slot”
dehumanization of public transportation
“and so of cities..”
“Overtone of motion…also underground”
hellish closure of the repetition of sound
“Floral Park Flatbush”
“It used to be…is this fourteenth?”
the poem is speeding up again
“Swing on it…”
beauty’s desperation in time
raising problems and giving no solutions
“The phonograph…” “and love”
love – imperative verb, burnt match in urinal
“and why do I…O evermore…Poe”
“for graves and manor…Chambers Street”
up from under and out on the bridge
“The intent escalator…”
“Genoese” – Columbus’s homeland
“…tomorrow, and to be…”
from tunnel to bridge, Crane awakes from a nightmare of TIME to a garden of SPACE
Poem – trying to find SPACE & WILDERNESS
The Mango Tree
Wallace Stevens – Symbolist Aesthetic, Hartford Insurance, Distinctive Traditions
No unanimously or singularity, no consistencies
Take the whole trip
Thesis statements are never true
Modernism – more than one thing; begins with Victorianism, social Darwinism.
The title “Sunday Morning” creates expectations.
I – Starts – “Complacencies of the peignoir” (a Manet painting)
A space and time emptied of its usual meaning.
How shall we fill this space?
Where to lay devotion?
To the beautiful, hoping it’s not décor.
Full of sensuality.
Void of spirit.
“The green freedom of a cockatoo.”
Using the imagination to fill the void.
-To compensate, sufficient to human needs.
-Opening stanza, meant to be a void.
How reconcile? How intertwine sense & spirit.
The poem is dialectical, talking to itself.
Poetry IS thought, not the product of thought.
Stevens brings from Victorian to contemporary, stanza by stanza.
“Comforts of the sun.” (Son, of god, on Sunday)
Sensual realities, sometimes more eloquent.
Where do I put my faith?
“Destined for her soul.”
Modernism doesn’t go away.
Stevens gives in to his nostalgia.
-Difference, uncertainty, argument with itself.
Yearning for transcendence.
VI – Conflict
The only permanence if impermanence.
Modernism – Looking for the vocabulary.
“My vocabulary did this to me.”
The poem knows that it has not received a vocabulary, searching for words.
Language describes the past, we drag the language into the future.
The poem recoils from itself, the truth, and does not conceal.
Bought & paid for our misery with our mortality.
“Heavenly fellowship of me that perish.”
Immortal, because we die.
Modernism – A new vocabulary, chaos is inhabitable.
This is the truth, for now.
Sepulcher, grave of Jesus.
Inescapable, and without will to escape.
Downward – Extending wings.
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
-The bird is an old metaphor of man.
-Hummingbird brain is more complex than the human brain.
– “We become birds when we die.”
– No robins in North America, but finches.
Poems are talking to other poems; a conversation is going on in every artform.
Poem, “How to Live, What to Do”
Keats, “Ode to a Nightingale”
Poem, “Ode to a Skylark”
Birdness of a bird – not point of view, but perspective.
Numerous ways of looking; like cubism.
A shift – from “I” to “13 Ways”
Number becomes arbitrary, potentially meaningless.
I – starts- “Among…” Twenty mountains – space – leaps from 13 to 20, role of the arbitrary.
IT – The poem, the experience – doesn’t add up.
In the abyss, the space between information and understanding.
TS Eliot – Had the experience, missed the understanding.
A location that lacks specificity.
To be particular is to be numerous.
The poem is looking at me.
Eye of the blackbird.
The text doesn’t stand still long enough to understand it.
II – 3 minds, 3 blackbirds (like a tree)
Thought is the object of thought, not a blackbird.
“Socrates is a bum.”
“Soccer cheese bum.”
Thinking about a tree bears no nest/leaves.
Thought is thought, things are things.
The limits of thought are not the limits of life.
Habit of thinking that meaning is a product of thought.
Meaning occurs without thought.
Thought may create distance/problematic.
We turn things into problems to solve.
III – synecdoche/synecdochically
Part of a whole can represent a whole.
-partial remains partial.
“Small part,” of a pantomime (perhaps ‘going through the motions’ of autumn).
Limits of thought.
IV – Man/woman/blackbird – one.
The oneness of things remains stubbornly one, enduringly one.
Though does not pluralize in the presence of temporary unity.
Joseph – Doves
Virginia Woolfe – “To the Lighthouse”
Thoreau – Walden, “I cannot count one, only think of one.”
The poem doesn’t develop at this point.
It just goes on.
-When we grow up, you’re grown up.
“Better” as a supreme fiction?
V – Beauty. “I don’t know…”
Inflections/innuendos/bird whistle/or just after.
The experiences happen in time/sequence.
Where lies preference?
Read poetry – not what is said/added/explained, but for what it is.
There is no either/or with a definite article.
VI – Arbitrariness of interpretation – “barbaric glass”
What is mood? Generally? What does mood weigh, and where does mood end?
Everything participates in a phenomenal reality.
Everything that is, IS.
TS Eliot poem
Titus Logicus is Philosophicus (song?)
-Accepting the decipherability allows the experience.
Decoding hinders the experience.
VII – “Thin men in Haddam”
…SEE the blackbird?
Giving up imagination to see.
Talk about seeing – multiply perspective.
“Do you not see?”
Why imagine when you should/can SEE?
Transposition – Poetry is the product of something seen, not imagined.
Incompetence – Oppression as tradition, absolute incompetence.
Enter the truth from any direction.
Part of the poem’s genius. (genie)
VIII – Noble accents.
Not synthesis, but simultaneity.
All truths are simultaneous.
All perspectives are simultaneous.
Everything been and love.
All the Me’s at the same time.
A boy, youth, man, all at once.
Numerousness, rather than singular truth/perspective/etc.
IX – “Circles,” one of many, circles in the water.
Emerson – Pebbles ring in water.
Which is THE circle?
Remove attention to understand.
Stevens – a comic poet
Charlie Chaplin (broke tramp with no limp carries cane)
X – The Sight – Green Light
“Bawds of euphony”?
XI – Rode over Connecticut
“Shadow of his equipage”
Not here to understand each other, but to love each other.
Yeats – “The Apparition”
Scared of a coat on a coat rack.
XII – River moving. Blackbird flying.
No logic, no common sense.
Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc – “If you eat a Whopper at Burger King and later get hit by a truck, then eating whoppers will get you hit by a truck.”
Is the poem a test for sanity?
XIII – Evening. Snowing. Also going to snow.
One state is not one state.
Everything participates in simultaneity.
(Perhaps “going to snow” refers to the continuance of snow snowing? JM)
Attention is prophetic.
Perception, not imagination, is the real test of…
(And quite naturally, spacey, I missed the answer. The real test of what? I’ll never know. Oh well. JM)
There it is! THE END
The Idea of Order at Key West
The Solitary Reader
“Behold her,” asking us into the poem.
Like minded audience, unlike Stevens’ poem.
“Will no one tell me what she sings”
Who are you talking to? To everyone, anyone
A same culture
What’s the song?
“I” existed; absent from Stevens’
Wordsworth is emotionally moved by the woman’s song.
Modernization of pictoral space.
A new arrangement of sounds.
So internalized, aching to be externalized.
Key West – localized
Ramon – conversational
The sea as origin, powerful, coming close to zero.
Get to the beginning.
A cry, that was not ours, not a human matter.
Poem is a network of connections
humility from beginning
knowledge/information is power
Beauty, music, thought
Temporary like Achilles
Truth may be supra-human
The oceanness of the ocean
Immediate, but superficial
Similarities of the two poems
Understanding does not equal ownership
Hearing you does not make you mine
Sea, not a mask
Nothing to look behind
No shabby magicianship
Thinking is continuous with the reality of the real.
Modernism – thought as exposure to, not of, the real
not penetration or regression/aggression
Modernism moving with the real
Not to get through, but to join
The poem spends time with its subject matter.
“Word by word”
The song is made of words
Candor of experience
Simple yet remarkable
Song – place, singing, relation between grinding water/gasping sea
We heard some, not all
Stand in presence and comprehend
The poem is comfortable with subject
Not trying to comprehend
Different image of human is proposed
The imagination/contentedness of limited access
We are instantly on level ground
Contrary to Wordsworth
Meaning, experiences, singer involved in cultural network
The Key West song is HERS
Oneness remaining one
Everyone is a one
“If it was only dark…”
Stevens is avowing
Beautiful, enormous, meaningless
How can you know the meaning of life when you are living it?
“Among” – Signal word. Not behind/within, but with
Companionship rather than meaning of subject matter
Works of art comforting in a meaningless world
At home with meaninglessness
Poem – a brief duration of comfort in meaninglessness?
“God is dead” Harsh/incomplete
“Single artificer” – Created the world in which she lives in
The poem/song are simultaneous
They do not overlap or coincide
The meaning of life is your life
The meaning of the poem is the poem
Ramon Fernandez – Aesthetic philosopher
“Tell me, if you know”
Imperative / Passive
Theme – The organizing principle of the world is the world
An experience to find that the world is the world
Conventions in art – excess of authority
Unnecessary – for beauty and truth
Maker – creator, god, uncapitalized
Everything is talking – Seem to have a voice
Other than what Wallace Stevens gives it
We don’t know where we are, where we come from
immediate uncertainty following certainty
Meaning – what is heard is heard
Yield to intensity
Purpose – not to perceive order but to experience intensity
“How shall I live?”
Not for order, but intensity of experiences
The Man with the Blue Guitar
Modern – has no definition
Has trajectory, like anything
Location, in poems
You can know where something is and is going
But can’t know both
Modernness – momentary, elusive when fixed
Love the elusiveness
Natural life cycle
Stevens – Late Victorian
Sunday Morning/Key West – sad poems, emptiness to fill, but how?
Death of god
Blackbirds – cubistic, many views
Assemblies – don’t try to figure it out
Blue Guitar – modernist, Picasso, old guitarist, all grows up
Conclusions left behind
No answers to questions
Serial poem – one thing has nothing to do with the other
The shock of the new/next.
Sad expression – “comfort zone”
Stanza/lines are not preparing for the following stanza/lines
To be unprepared, not to become a sum
Sensing it IS experiencing it
Modern – for now. Provisional, temporary
Stevens – major phase – serial poetry
Different kind of reading
Zeus – just a student, like us all
Happy to draw no conclusion, uninstructed, but informed. Reading the poem is sufficient.
Reality – limited control/access
Modern poet – “blue guitar,” Picasso guitar, not blue
Gap – between imagination & reality
We like to imagine imagination and reality
Politics – don’t get your heart broken
Dr. Seuss – stole it from Wallace Stevens
Nonsense – what we are willing to accept as the gap
Come to arts for truth
Angry when finding nonsense
Poem does not shrink by letting nonsense in
Humpty Dumpty – “When I use a word, it means exactly what I want. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Pure pleasure of nonsense
Constant risk of nonsense
Charlton Heston, parted the Red Sea, with a .38
Poem – begins sober in tradition
Orpheus/David – poetry comes from lyre/shearsman/shepherd
Beginning at the beginning, where the poem starts
To say anything runs the risk of nonsense
Nonsense/truth, product of same activity
Venture out of silence – nonsense/truth
Qualities of faith – rejected by fundamentalisms
Modernism – not a philosophy, no code/sequence, because it does
Jim Morrison – you can’t petition the lord with prayer
Dozens of modernisms
A faith, affirmed as it is, no logic/argument/rational/symbol
Vacuum filled with modernism
“There is no god, and Mary is his mother”
II – Candid statesman of the partial
“Nightingale” – “I am with thee”
Birds should not smoke
Can we live with “almost real” And how?
Dreams that almost come true
Almost – dispense with aspiration to answer
The question IS the answer
Continual asking of question
The artists always collapsed back into themselves
Dissatisfaction with physical reality
Nothing captured by serial poem
Never internalizes the subject
Only “the other,” remains other/outside/unknown
Understanding is not necessary for experience
“Understanding” “god” unnecessary with faith
Imagination – blessing/curse
A foot in two worlds, never two feet in one world
Like things as they are
Buzzing of the blue guitar
Rimbaud – “Vowels
Miles Davis – “Aura”
Wallace Stevens – Blue Guitar
Modern poem – hope/despair
We know ourselves too well to mistake ourselves for gods
We were Americans, now we’re Americans
For a moment final
Conclusion to conclusion
All the time seems to have conclusion
Tomorrow – more of today, but different
Paying attention catastrophizes the moment
Speaking of the world, myself
Wine/blood: sacramental precincts
Imagination/reality impossible to connect
Belief without the object of belief
Belief can only exist without the object of belief
“I believe…” object of belief in modernist circumstance
Believing in believing, not something else
Classical point of view – pejorative, blue guitar, doesn’t allow things to happen as a means to an end
Lord, lead me out of this world, it is growing faint, I don’t think it goes all the way.
Attitudes toward faith and modern
Madness of space
Subject and object – connection by verb
King Lear – unaccompanied man, “Howl, howl, howl”
Removes the words/explanations
Stevens – contact with the realization
Access to reality, denied by access to reality, doom rather than means to transport
“Two dreams” – bread, stone, bed
Exposure – art, love, faith, imperfection of imagination
Existence, not an arrival
Remembering, existence enough?
Esthétique du Mal
Graham Rob – 100 French words that don’t rhyme.
Milton – 17th Century
Mal – surreality
Going beyond interpretation
Du Mal – Charles Bodilaire/Bolaire(?) – “Fleur de Mal”
Rough, but no real connection
The poem walks around
The poem and the street – modern idea
The street – entered/exited, moved upon
Street life, street carnival, street fair
Relationship to streets gives indication of culture
Abolition of hierarchies
No dominant, no persona, no point of view
Trying to understand it makes it confusing
An attitude towards things as they are
To be anywhere is to be more than one place simultaneously
There – a circumstance
Classically – a knot of circumstance
Reading equals writing and vice versa…in poetry
The present is indescribable, circumstance, so nervous – indescribable
T.S. Elliot – It is impossible to say just what I mean.
Cannot speak of it, because I am in it
Language – describing
Modernism – indescribable
Performance – modernity versus Aristotelian
“It was almost time for lunch. Pain is human.”
Sublimity – “happened to be there?”
Stevens, Williams, Crane
Stevens – isolated in/by humanness
Self aware – groans at time’s passage & limitations.
We groan from humanity
Not access but isolation
The passage of time, destruction felt alone
Special access equals special pain. Pain is human.
The human suffers the otherness in knowing of its own humanness
Alienation from joy
Saved by what we cannot know
Damned by what we DO know
Stevens – Not the knower, not outside, not deprived
Poetry – attempt to cure language?
No grammar – no difference between us and the world
Being is enough
In the dictionary – the beginning – a word…untrue
Imagining an elsewhere – you are nowhere
Saving the problem of a city by walking through it
Narcissism & the doom of narcissism
No “point of view” – everything occurring at the same time and better for it
Health of imagination or health of the world
What rules? We think of the world or the world?
VII – Death of Satan – Tragedy for the Imagination
Lucifer died. Imaginary death of an imaginary figure
Tragedy is imaginary. Invention to a noble accident
We invent satanic – to create good/evil dualism
By nature of language, doomed to reality
Dispensing fantasy & hallucination
Which are used to define ourselves
Satan – Paradise Lost – “I’m different,” the human problem
We don’t accept our creatureness – creatures – access to the real
Satanic – “I cant account for me”
The access creatures have to creation
Limited by language
Poems are seeking
X – Phantoms – Existence, Self-Justifying?
Imaginations make phantoms of us all
Haunting a world in which we might live
Modernism – Looking for a way to say “yes”
The modern doesn’t take attendance
Root of language – simile/metaphor/comparison
How the spirit struck me. An academic quaker
Modernism – to be free from nostalgia
XI – Fundamental Dissatisfaction
The last nostalgia – understanding
Language is creation to desire to understand (conundrum)
Live life without understanding life
Every culture has its modernism, almost transcending nostalgia
XV – “The Greatest Poverty” – To Want anything is to be in want
Missing time, totality of what is
You are here.
With a desire to be elsewhere
Classicists/idealists, in spite of ourselves
Let be be finally of seem. Ice cream.
“Humanity” – isolates us from the world. Excludes other species
Disney – Last place of American revolution
Paradise unknown. You know it because no one ever says, “This is it.” Self-awareness.
Who told you you were naked? Self-consciousness
Definite article – “This!” “Here!” “There!”
Of what it sees, for all the ill it sees
Living in a physical world. Birth acquiesced to death.
Revoke birth of knowing of death
“Who could’ve thought” – thought did not make the world.
Sensuous – beyond thought
We do not need metaphysics for change
Where we live, gives us change
Chaos in Motion & Not in Motion
(Snowman – emperor of ice cream – soliloquy)
Stevens – shorter poems – postcards from the modern catastrophe
Modern poem – catastrophic
Humans had solutions to human difficulties
Problems, no solution, WE ARE our problem
The planet, ecology, problem – humans
Modernism – innovation – let’s be something else
Shakespeare – sonnets solving dilemma of humanity, beautiful, young, you will die
Stanza – Italian word for “room”
– Stevens – no object of belief, art for sake of art
Doing it feels better than doing nothing
Poem of storm “chaos”
Poem of serenity “house was quiet”
Satisfaction of hurricane
Dissatisfaction of tropical depression
Not weather – circumstance
Humanity – the problem
American revolution – bitterness, great fun, but probable mistake
“Oh lashing wind…”
Chaos – Heisenberg principle
Motion/no motion – post-humanism
Point of view – too limited for comprehension
Chaos – system – many centers
Cosmos – system – one center
Ludwig Richter – landscape painter
John Constable – cows, odd numbers (aesthetic landscape?)
Everything in place/proportion
Stevens – harmonic poems out of disorder
Liberation beyond imagination to see the world without turning it into a composition
Human condition – unable to see without interpreting what we see.
More profound sadness that the human sees it.
You – did it
The poem – inexplicable
Who’s afraid of Virgina Woolf – if you existed, I’d divorce you
“Thickest” thunder – interpretation
“Spectacle” – no, rain
Smear – language and assumptions, syntax, hierarchies (languages, tenses)
We exist intermittently – humanness enthralls
Reminded when we’ve forgotten
Whitman – “Think”…live with animals, never happens
Surrealism – seems to promise velocity
Strangeness – humanness
Sake of singularity
False hope is hope never the less
– The world in mind – takes ourselves out of the world
Dread the day the dream of art/culture/civilization comes true
Pretending the mind can contain hopelessly outside the world
Consciousness – a form of exile
Can it be altered?
Desire without object of desire
Belief without object of belief
Stevens – no one to blame but ourselves, the world, or nothing
Shakespeare – The Tempest – know to curse
Poem – articulation of exile from the world
Nothing to say – saying it
Much to say – nothing
The House Was Quiet & The World Was Calm
“And” – conclusive/exclusive
To exile the house from the world
Hotel – “in the world” – “feel like you’re here”
Calm – no meaning – no alternative
Poetry – like prayer in another language
Conscious being of the “book”
Disturbing disappearing act
We become distinguished – the opposite of what we want
“Leaning” – physical gesture out of physicality
Civilized with wished of “truth”
“World map” – it’s only paper
– “Summer night” – sensual imagination
– Stink of ideal envelopes real
“Perception and the page”
Equations for comparing not-beings states
Stevens – short poems – exquisites to nothings there and elsewhere
Qualities – calm, quiet, turbulence, lashing
Captivated, dissipated, displaced by idealities (human consciousness)
– The small rain down can rain
– I wish/imagine I was somewhere else
– Complain the world doesn’t live up to the expectations of the world
– Annihilation – happy ending
– “Itself” – drains visual of calm/summer – truth/meaning
Agree to terms considered meaningful
– Reality – envelopes the man with back turned to the reality…
conscious prevents us from being conscious
Stevens – can rid himself of Plato
– Ideal – overshadow qualities of the world
– Prosperous – but can’t help it
– We think ourselves out of existence
– Poverty – deprivation resulting from having an imagination
– Good – taught you better, infected for best
Richard Hugo – Degrees of…?
America – denying of imagination
“Happy Meals” – I’m sick, my burger is happy
Via imagination – divert from quality of present
Stevens – knows the beauty of the world; the very art deprives him of the world (conundrum)
– Somehow tragedy meant to unify with beloved, which recedes from reach because of reach
The Auroras of Autumn
– Where Stevens arrives
I – Start – “Where the serpent lives”
Bodiless – not living
The idea, the Platonic, the serpent, Eden
– Stevens – lives for the imagination even though it makes his life poor
The imagination – the serpent
– Language – equally access and barrier to imagination
“Have some imagination”
Imagination – a distraction?
– Stevens – the problem of a languaged animal.
Sad poetry, but not morose (like Sweet Pea from Popeye)
– Soul – leap from body – everything comes through skin & senses. Escaping for immortality ends mortality. Death is the mother of beauty after all.
W.H. Auden – to be a minor poet is overwhelming ambition
– Abandon flesh and immortality (conundrum)
– Through senses – across the eternal
– “Serpent body flashing without skin”
“In another nest” – the news of eternity
– Stevens – heroic, great effort, tries not to be trapped, to escape self-imposed limits
II – “Farewell to an idea” – cabin stands
Trying to be real
– Real – not Stevens best subject, resists his own nature here
III – “Farewell to an idea” – mother’s face
– Stevens – stripping himself of his usual content
– Accepting loss – moms die, buildings crumble, mortality
Death – mother of beauty (an idea) (no, just death)
Acknowledging the limitations of his gift
Aurora of autumn – not an idea, fact
Truth IS – not a product of imagination
IV – “Farewell to an idea” – cancellings
First – effort towards – real
Second – effort towards – mother
Third – effort towards – death? Father?
The imagination of distance and abstraction
“Master oh master” – what do we do?
V – “The mother” – table. “The father” – fancy
– Imagination – a dream of the imagination
– There is only facts (final) & fancies (eternal)
– Old chaos of the sun
– “What festival?”
– Imagination – an inclination to being unreal
VI – “It is a theater”
– The hidden message – no message. It is what it is
– Farewell – we are not the arbiter of change. Change is the arbiter to us
– Most important passage!
“The denouement has to be postponed…”
Cabin, beach, Wally, little poem, opens door, aurora, on flames! Candle, flaring the flames
Feels afraid, as he should, annihilated by that which is
Stevens – flamboyant penitent
Death is death
Beauty is beauty
We don’t make the connection
Outside the cabin – enormity was overpowering
Poem – submits to limitations of poetry
Made great with small claim for poetry
And he feels afraid
VIII – “It is” – Unlike Stevens – no objection is
Reality – a place where we can rest
The lights – so spectacular – all that can be said is that they “are”
Mortality – too often taken too seriously
Afflicted – with the fiction of meaning
IX – “And each other thought”
Stevens – ends poetic life, imagining poetry of rest
Acceptance of loss & and change
Rest in death
“It may come tomorrow”
Almost – nothing eraticular/prophetic
Tenderest – tricky word
Humanity – not entirely escapable
X – “Turn back to where” –
Obtain – momentary trust
Never stay for long
– There we are where we begin
Yeats – antithetical – know what’s true, can’t accept what’s true
– Exacerbating restlessness
– Blaze of summer straw
– Winter’s nick – nick, typing impression, encoding permanent cold
– Contention – beauty of poetry – anguish of reality