The Reader Became The Book


In poetry, you must love the words, the ideas and images and rhythms with all your capacity to love anything at all.

Wallace Stevens

Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour

by Wallace Stevens  (1879 – 1955)

Light the first light of evening, as in a room
In which we rest and, for small reason, think
The world imagined is the ultimate good.

This is, therefore, the intensest rendezvous.
It is in that thought that we collect ourselves,
Out of all the indifferences, into one thing:

Within a single thing, a single shawl
Wrapped tightly round us, since we are poor, a warmth,
A light, a power, the miraculous influence.

Here, now, we forget each other and ourselves.
We feel the obscurity of an order, a whole,
A knowledge, that which arranged the rendezvous.

Within its vital boundary, in the mind.
We say God and the imagination are one…
How high that highest candle lights the dark.

Out of this same light, out of the central mind,
We make a dwelling in the evening air,
In which being there together is enough.

I have a fascination with Wallace Stevens’ poetry.  Some of his poems have a way of transcending language in ways that feel like he is speaking directly to me.  I wonder if Stevens’ wife was jealous of his love affair with words?   Did he love words, ideas and images and rhythms of poetry more than he did her?   It’s hard to compete with a passion of a spouse that is outside of your shared experiences unless each finds a way to be tethered and ascended by it.

I am trending towards less sharing of my inner thoughts on Fourteen Lines and more letting the poetry speak for itself, in what ever way it speaks to those that read it.  I think this growing reticence stems from the old adage, “if you have nothing good to say, its better to say nothing at all.”   Thriving in 2020 for me requires resilience, patience, a thick skin from the insanity of the world around us and a re-evaluation of goals and expectations.  It’s all about a heaping spoonful of keep on, keeping on.

The House Was Quiet and The Earth Was Calm

by Wallace Stevens

The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night

Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.

The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,

Wanted to lean, wanted much most to be
The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom

The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.

The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.

And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself

Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.