Wallace Stevens


American Modernist Poet and Insurance Executive

Author Quotes

There may be always a time of innocence. There is never a place.

This mangled, smutted semi-world hacked out of dirt . . . It is not possible for the moon to blot this with its dove-winged blendings.

Tom-tom, c'est moi. The blue guitar and I are one.

Weaker and weaker, the sunlight falls in the afternoon. The proud and the strong have departed. Those that are left are the unaccomplished, the finally human, natives of a dwindled sphere.

Yes: but the color of the heavy hemlocks came striding. And I remembered the cry of the peacocks.

The way through the world is more difficult to find than the way beyond it.

There must be no cessation of motion, or of the noise of motion, the renewal of noise and manifold continuation.

This will make widows wince. But fictive things wink as they will. Wink most when widows wince.

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.

Well, an old order is a violent one. This proves nothing. Just one more truth, one more element in the immense disorder of truths.

Yet I am the necessary angel of earth, since, in my sight, you see the earth again, cleared of its stiff and stubborn, man-locked set, and, in my hearing, you hear its tragic drone rise liquidly in liquid lingerings.

The whole appearance is a toy. For this, the dove in the belly builds his nest and coos, Selah, tempestuous bird. How is it that the rivers shine and hold their mirrors up, like excellence collecting excellence?

There was neither voice nor crested image, no chorister, nor priest. There was only the great height of the rock and the two of them standing still to rest.

Thought is an infection. In the case of certain thoughts, it becomes an epidemic.

Two forms move among the dead, high sleep who by his highness quiets them, high peace upon whose shoulders even the heavens rest, two brothers. And a third form, she that says good-by in the darkness, speaking quietly there, to those that cannot say good-by themselves.

What is one man among so many men? What are so many men in such a world? Can one man think one thing and think it long? Can one man be one thing and be it long?

Yet there is no spring in Florida, neither in boskage perdu, nor on the nunnery beaches.

The whole race is a poet that writes down the eccentric propositions of its fate.

There were ghosts that returned to earth to hear his phrases, as he sat there reading, aloud, the great blue tabulae. They were those from the wilderness of stars that had expected more. There were those that returned to hear him read from the poem of life, of the pans above the stove, the pots on the table, the tulips among them. They were those that would have wept to step barefoot into reality.

Through centuries he lived in poverty. God only was his only elegance. Then generation by generation he grew stronger and freer, a little better off. He lived each life because, if it was bad, he said a good life would be possible.

Two things of opposite natures seem to depend on one another, as a man depends on a woman, day on night, the imagined on the real. This is the origin of change. Winter and spring, cold copulars, embrace and forth the particulars of rapture come.

What is there in life except one's ideas, good air, good friend, what is there in life?

Yet there was a man within me could have risen to the clouds, could have touched these winds, bent and broken them down, could have stood up sharply in the sky.

The wind attendant on the solstices blows on the shutters of the metropoles, stirring no poet in his sleep, and tolls the trend ideas of the villages. The malady of the quotidian.

There will never be an end to this droning of the surf.

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American Modernist Poet and Insurance Executive