Wallace Stevens


American Modernist Poet and Insurance Executive

Author Quotes

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 president has apples on the table and barefoot servants round him, who adjust the curtains to a metaphysical and the banners of the nation flutter, burst on the flag-poles in a red-blue dazzle, whack at the halyards.

The squirming facts exceed the squamous mind, if one may say so.

The prologues are over. It is a question, now, of final belief. So, say that final belief must be in a fiction. It is time to choose.

The stars are putting on their glittering belts. They throw around their shoulders cloaks that flash like a great shadow's last embellishment.

The reader became the book; and summer night was like the conscious being of the book. The house was quiet and the world was calm. The words were spoken as if there was no book, except that the reader leaned above the page, wanted to lean, wanted much to be the scholar to whom his book is true, to whom the summer night is like a perfection of thought. The house was quiet because it had to be. The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind: the access of perfection to the page. And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world, in which there is no other meaning, itself is calm, itself is summer and night, itself is the reader leaning late and reading there.

The starting point of the human and the end, that in which space itself is contained, the gate to the enclosure, day, the things illumined by day, night and that which night illumines, night and its midnight-minting fragrances, night's hymn of the rock, as in a vivid sleep.

The reading of a poem should be an experience. Its writing must be all the more so.

The sun is an example. What it seems it is and in such seeming all things are.

The reason can give nothing at all like the response to desire.

The sun was rising at six, no longer a battered panache above snow.

The reflection of her here, and then there, is another shadow, another evasion, another denial. If she is everywhere, she is nowhere, to him. But this she has made.

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American Modernist Poet and Insurance Executive