Wallace Stevens


American Modernist Poet and Insurance Executive

Author Quotes

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.

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!

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American Modernist Poet and Insurance Executive