Wallace Stevens


American Modernist Poet and Insurance Executive

Author Quotes

Who can think of the sun costuming clouds when all people are shaken or of night endazzled, proud, when people awaken and cry and cry for help?

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.

We live in an old chaos of the sun.

Why should she give her bounty to the dead? What is divinity if it can come only in silent shadows and in dreams?

There are these sudden mobs of men, these sudden clouds of faces and arms, an immense suppression, freed, these voices crying without knowing for what, except to be happy, without knowing how, imposing forms they cannot describe, requiring order beyond their speech.

This death was his belief though death is a stone. This man loved earth, not heaven, enough to die.

To say of one mask it is like, to say of another it is like, to know that the balance does not quite rest, that the mask is strange, however like.

We say God and the imagination are one… How high that highest candle lights the dark.

With our bones we left much more, left what still is the look of things, left what we felt at what we saw.

There comes a time when the waltz is no longer a mode of desire, a mode of revealing desire and is empty of shadows. Too many waltzes have ended.

This fat pistache of Belgian grapes exceeds the total gala of auburn aureoles. Cochon! Master, the grapes are here and now.

To what good, in the alleys of the lilacs, O caliper, do you scratch your buttocks and tell the divine ingénue, your companion, that this bloom is the bloom of soap and this fragrance the fragrance of vegetal?

We say this changes and that changes. Thus the constant violets, doves, girls, bees and hyacinths are inconstant objects of inconstant cause in a universe of inconstancy.

Words add to the senses. The words for the dazzle of mica, the dithering of grass, the Arachne integument of dead trees, are the eye grown larger, more intense.

There is no wing like meaning

This is my father or, maybe, it is as he was, a likeness, one of the race of fathers: earth and sea and air.

To-morrow when the sun, for all your images, comes up as the sun, bull fire, your images will have left no shadow of themselves.

We stand in the tumult of a festival. What festival? This loud, disordered mooch? These hospitaliers? These brute-like guests? These musicians dubbing at a tragedy, A-dub, a-dub, which is made up of this: that there are no lines to speak? There is no play.

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

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.

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American Modernist Poet and Insurance Executive