Wallace Stevens


American Modernist Poet and Insurance Executive

Author Quotes

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

These days of disinheritance, we feast on human heads. True, birds rebuild old nests and there is blue in the woods. The church bells clap one night in the week. But that's all done. It is what used to be....

Tinsel in February, tinsel in august. There are things in a man besides his reason.

Unless we believe in the hero, what is there to believe? Incisive what, the fellow of what good. Devise. Make him of mud.

What's down below is in the past like last night's crickets, far below.

You like it under the trees in autumn, because everything is half dead. The wind moves like a cripple among the leaves and repeats words without meaning.

The windy sky cries out a literate despair.

They are not flat surfaces having curved outlines. They are round tapering toward the top.

To be young is all there is in the world. The rest is nonsense—and cant. They talk so beautifully about work and having a family and a home (and I do, too, sometimes) but it's all worry and head-aches and respectable poverty and forced gushing... Telling people how nice it is, when, in reality, you would give all of your last thirty years for one of your first thirty. Old people are tremendous frauds.

We ask which means most, for us, all the genii or one man who, for us, is greater than they. On his gold horse striding, like a conjured beast, miraculous in its panache and swish?

When I think of our lands I think of the house and the table that holds a platter of pears, vermilion smeared over green, arranged for show.

You were created of your name, the word is that of which you were the personage. There is no life except in the word of it.

The winter is made and you have to bear it, the winter web, the winter woven, wind and wind, for all the thoughts of summer that go with it in the mind, pupa of straw, moppet of rags.

They said, you have a blue guitar, you do not play things as they are. The man replied, things as they are changed upon a blue guitar.

To lose sensibility, to see what one sees, as if sight had not its own miraculous thrift, to hear only what one hears, one meaning alone, as if the paradise of meaning ceased to be paradise, it is this to be destitute.

We do not prove the existence of the poem. It is something seen and known in lesser poems. It is the huge, high harmony that sounds a little and a little, suddenly, by means of a separate sense. It is and it is not and, therefore, is.

When this yokel comes maundering, whetting his hacker, I shall run before him, diffusing the civilest odors out of geraniums and unsmelled flowers. It will check him.

The words of things entangle and confuse. The plum survives its poems.

They said, ‘You have a blue guitar, you do not play things as they are.’ The man replied, ‘Things as they are changed upon a blue guitar.’

To regard the imagination as metaphysics is to think of it as part of life, and to think of it as part of life is to realize the extent of artifice. We live in the mind.

We enjoy the ithy oonts and long-haired Plomets, as the Herr Gott enjoys his comets.

When was it that the particles became the whole man, that tempers and beliefs became temper and belief and that differences lost difference and were one? It had to be in the presence of a solitude of the self.

The wound kills that does not bleed. It has no nurse nor kin to know nor kin to care.

They will get it straight one day at the Sorbonne. We shall return at twilight from the lecture pleased that the irrational is rational.

To say more than human things with human voice that cannot be; to say human things with more than human voice, that, also, cannot be; to speak humanly from the height or from the depth of human things, that is acutest speech.

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American Modernist Poet and Insurance Executive