Reading Wallace Stevens — or the enlightened poetics of intersubjective, diegetic perfection in a movement, e.g., the momentary…the ephemeral yet ever present scene
Letters: April 14th, 2012
Here are the two “perfect” poems I’d mentioned a while back. They were given to me some time ago, perhaps as part of a birthday or Christmas gift from R____, and apparently had been concealed between a couple of books all this time. I don’t recall having read them upon receipt. Actually, I don’t recall ever having received them! How odd. But I do know they’re from R____, since the cover page bears his script. Their recent (re)discovery was a most delightful encounter, an unexpected boon! (I may very well include some references to or excerpts from Stevens’ poetry in my thesis, since much of his poetry deals with intersubjective reality.)
As best as I figure, the two poems are the last cantos from The Auroras of Autumn. Might you already have this collection among your stacks?
Well, my dear, I hope you find enjoyment, if not the very perfection I detect, in these two poems by Wallace Stevens.
Your faithful friend,
We keep coming back and coming back
To the real: to the hotel instead of the hymns
That fall upon it out of the wind. We seek
The poem of pure reality, untouched
By trope or deviation, straight to the world,
Straight to the transfixing object, to the object
At the exactest point at which it is itself,
Transfixing by being purely what it is,
A view of New Haven, say, through the certain eye,
The eye made clear of uncertainty, with the sight
Of simple seeing, without reflection. We seek
Nothing beyond reality. Within it,
Everything, the spirit’s alchemicana
Included, the spirit that goes roundabout
And through included, not merely the visible,
The solid, but the movable, the moment,
The coming on of feasts and the habits of saints,
The pattern of the heavens and high, night air
It is fatal in the moon and empty there.
But, here, allons. The enigmatical
Beauty of each beautiful enigma
Becomes amassed in a total double-thing.
We do not know what is real and what is not.
We say of the moon, it is haunted by the man
Of bronze whose mind was made up and who, therefore, died.
We are not men of bronze and we are not dead.
His spirit is imprisoned in constant change.
But ours is not imprisoned. It resides
In a permanence composed of impermanence,
In a faithfulness as against the lunar light,
So that morning and evening are like promises kept,
So that the approaching sun and its arrival,
Its evening feast and the following festival,
This faithfulness of reality, this mode,
This tendance and venerable holding-in
Make gay the hallucinations in surfaces.