Wallace Stevens


American Modernist Poet and Insurance Executive

Author Quotes

The sun, that brave man, comes through boughs that lie in wait, that brave man. Green and gloomy eyes in dark forms of the grass run away.

The rich earth, of its own self made rich, fertile of its own leaves and days and wars, of its brown wheat rapturous in the wind, the nature of its women in the air, the stern voices of its necessitous men, this chorus as of those that wanted to live.

The thinker as reader reads what has been written. He wears the words he reads to look upon within his being.

The river is moving. The blackbird must be flying.

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 poem of the mind in the act of finding what will suffice. It has not always had to find: the scene was set; it repeated what was in the script. Then the theatre was changed to something else. Its past was a souvenir.

The sea severs not only lands but also selves.

The water never formed to mind or voice, like a body wholly body, fluttering its empty sleeves; and yet its mimic motion made constant cry,

The poem refreshes life so that we share, for a moment, the first idea . . . It satisfies belief in an immaculate beginning and sends us, winged by an unconscious will, to an immaculate end. We move between these points: from that ever-early candor to its late plural.

The sense of the serpent in you nanke, and your averted stride add nothing to the horror the frost that glistens on your face and hair.

The Poem That Took The Place Of A Mountain - There it was, word for word, the poem that took the place of a mountain. He breathed its oxygen, even when the book lay turned in the dust of his table. It reminded him how he had needed a place to go to in his own direction. How he had recomposed the pines, shifted the rocks and picked his way among clouds for the outlook that would be right, where he would be complete in an unexplained completion: the exact rock where his inexactness would discover, at last, the view toward which they had edged where he could lie and gazing down at the sea, recognize his unique and solitary home.

The skeleton said it is a question of the naked man, the naked man as last and tallest hero and plus gaudiest vir.

The poem, through candor, brings back a power again that gives a candid kind to everything.

The skreak and skritter of evening gone and grackles gone and sorrows of the sun, the sorrows of sun, too, gone . . . the moon and moon, the yellow moon of words about the nightingale in measureless measures, not a bird for me.

The Poems of Our Climate – I clear water in a brilliant bowl, pink and white carnations. The light in the room more like a snowy air, reflecting snow. A newly-fallen snow at the end of winter when afternoons return. Pink and white carnations - one desires so much more than that. The day itself is simplified: a bowl of white, cold, a cold porcelain, low and round, with nothing more than the carnations there. Say even that this complete simplicity stripped one of all one's torments, concealed the evilly compounded, vital I and made it fresh in a world of white, a world of clear water, brilliant-edged, still one would want more, one would need more, more than a world of white and snowy scents. There would still remain the never-resting mind, so that one would want to escape, come back to what had been so long composed. The imperfect is our paradise. Note that, in this bitterness, delight, since the imperfect is so hot in us, lies in flawed words and stubborn sounds.

The sky seemed so small that winter day, a dirty light on a lifeless world, contracted like a withered stick.

The poet is the priest of the invisible

The sorry verities! Yet in excess, continual, there is cure of sorrow.

The poet makes silk dresses out of worms

The soul, he said, is composed of the external world.

The point of vision and desire are the same.

The soul, O ganders, flies beyond the parks and far beyond the discords of the wind.

The poem must resist the intelligence almost successfully.

Cotton Mather died when I was a boy. The books he read, all day, all night and all the nights, had got him nowhere. There was always the doubt that made him preach the louder, long for a church in which his voice would roll its cadences, after the sermon, to quiet that mouse in the wall.

For the soldier of time, it breathes a summer sleep, in which his wound is good because life was. No part of him was ever part of death. A woman smoothes her forehead with her hand and the soldier of time lies calm beneath that stroke.

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American Modernist Poet and Insurance Executive