Wallace Stevens


American Modernist Poet and Insurance Executive

Author Quotes

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.

Throw away the lights, the definitions, and say of what you see in the dark that it is this or that it is that, but do not use the rotted names.

Two wooden tubs of blue hydrangeas stand at the foot of the stone steps. The sky is a blue gum streaked with rose. The trees are black. The grackles crack their throats of bone in the smooth air. Moisture and heat have swollen the garden into a slum of bloom. Pardie! Summer is like a fat beast, sleepy in mildew.

What more is to love than I have loved? And if there be nothing more, o bright, o bright, the chick, the chidder-barn and grassy chives and great moon, cricket-impresario, and, hoy, the impopulous purple-plated past, hoy, hoy, the blue bulls kneeling down to rest.

Yet to speak of the whole world as metaphor is still to stick to the contents of the mind and the desire to believe in a metaphor. It is to stick to the nicer knowledge of belief, that what it believes in is not true.

The wind had seized the tree and ha, and ha, it held the shivering, the shaken limbs, then bathed its body in the leaping lake.

There's no such thing as life; or if there is, it is faster than the weather, faster than any character. It is more than any scene: of the guillotine or of any glamorous hanging.

Thus the theory of description matters most. It is the theory of the word for those for whom the word is the making of the world, the buzzing world and lisping firmament.

Under the eglantine the fretful concubine said, Phooey! Phoo! She whispered, Pfui!

What One believes is what matters. Ecstatic identities between one's self and the weather and the things of the weather are the belief in one's element, the casual reunions, the long-pondered surrenders, the repeated sayings that there is nothing more and that it is enough.

You could almost see the brass on her gleaming, not quite. The mist was to light what red is to fire. And her mainmast tapered to nothing, without teetering a millimeter's measure. The beads on her rails seemed to grasp at transparence.

The wind shifts like this: like a human without illusions, who still feels irrational things within her.

These are the small townsmen of death, a man and a woman, like two leaves that keep clinging to a tree, before winter freezes and grows black.

Tilting up his nose, he inhaled the rancid rosin, burly smells of dampened lumber, emanations blown from warehouse doors, the gustiness of ropes, decays of sacks, and all the arrant stinks that helped him round his rude æsthetic out.

Unfortunately there is nothing more inane than an Easter carol. It is a religious perversion of the activity of spring in our blood.

What our eyes behold may well be the text of life but one's meditations on the text and the disclosures of these meditations are no less a part of the structure of reality.

You know how Utamaro's beauties sought the end of love in their all-speaking braids. Alas! Have all the barbers lived in vain that not one curl in nature has survived?

The wind speeds her, blowing upon her hands and watery back. She touches the clouds, where she goes in the circle of her traverse of the sea.

These are the voices of the pastors calling and calling like the long echoes in long sleep, generations of shepherds to generations of sheep.

Time is a horse that runs in the heart, a horse without a rider on a road at night. The mind sits listening and hears it pass.

Union of the weakest develops strength not wisdom. Can all men, together, avenge one of the leaves that have fallen in autumn? But the wise man avenges by building his city in snow.

What word have you, interpreters, of men who in the tomb of heaven walk by night, the darkened ghosts of our old comedy?

You know that the nucleus of a time is not the poet but the poem, the growth of the mind of the world, the heroic effort to live expressed as victory. The poet does not speak in ruins nor stand there making orotund consolations. He shares the confusions of intelligence.

The wind, tempestuous clarion, with heavy cry, came bluntly thundering, more terrible than the revenge of music on bassoons.

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American Modernist Poet and Insurance Executive