Wallace Stevens


American Modernist Poet and Insurance Executive

Author Quotes

He sought an earthly leader who could stand without panache, without cockade, son only of man and sun of men, the outer captain, the inner saint, the pine, the pillar and the priest, the voice, the book, the hidden well.

I can't make head or tail of life. Love is a fine thing, art is a fine thing, nature is a fine thing; but the average human mind and spirit are confusing beyond measure. Sometimes I think that all our learning is the little learning of the maxim. To laugh at a roman awe-stricken in a sacred grove is to laugh at something today.

If her horny feet protrude, they come to show how cold she is, and dumb.

In contentment I still feel the need for imperishable bliss. Death is the mother of beauty; hence from her, alone, shall come fulfillment to our dreams and our desires. Is there no change of death in paradise? Does ripe fruit never fall? or do the boughs hang always heavy in that perfect sky, unchanging, yet so like our perishing earth, with rivers like our own that seek for seas they never find, the same receding shores that never touch with inarticulate pang?

Intolerance respecting other people's religion is toleration itself in comparison with intolerance respecting other people's art.

It is time that beats in the breast and it is time that batters against the mind, silent and proud, the mind that knows it is destroyed by time.

It was soldiers went marching over the rocks and still the birds came, came in watery flocks, because it was spring and the birds had to come. No doubt that soldiers had to be marching and that drums had to be rolling, rolling, rolling.

Most people read poetry listening for echoes because the echoes are familiar to them. They wade through it the way a boy wades through water, feeling with his toes for the bottom: The echoes are the bottom.

Of what is real I say, is it the old, the roseate parent or the bride come jingling, kissed and cupped, or else the spirit and all ensigns of the self?

Our sense of these things changes and they change, not as in metaphor, but in our sense of them. So sense exceeds all metaphor. It exceeds the heavy changes of the light. It is like a flow of meanings with no speech and of as many meanings as of men.

Poetry is a finikin thing of air that lives uncertainly and not for long yet radiantly beyond much lustier blurs.

Rou-cou spoke the dove, like the sooth lord of sorrow, of sooth love and sorrow, and a hail-bow, hail-bow, to this morrow.

Soon, with a noise like tambourines, came her attendant Byzantines.

The archbishop is away. The church is gray. He has left his robes folded in camphor and, dressed in black, he walks among fireflies.

The epic of disbelief blares oftener and soon, will soon be constant.

The heavy trees, the grunting, shuffling branches, the robust, the nocturnal, the antique, the blue-green pines deepen the feelings to inhuman depths.

The magnificent cause of being, the imagination, the one reality in this imagined world ...

The pears are not seen as the observer wills.

Day after day, throughout the winter, we hardened ourselves to live by bluest reason in a world of wind and frost.

Force is my lot and not pink-clustered roma ni avignon ni leyden, and cold, my element. Death is my master and, without light, I dwell.

He tries by a peculiar speech to speak the peculiar potency of the general, to compound the imagination's Latin with the lingua franca et jocundissima.

I certainly do not exist from nine to six, when I am at the office.

If in a shimmering room the babies came, drawn close by dreams of fledgling wing, it was because night nursed them in its fold.

In European thought in general, as contrasted with American, vigor, life and originality have a kind of easy, professional utterance. American—on the other hand, is expressed in an eager amateurish way. A European gives a sense of scope, of survey, of consideration. An American is strained, sensational. One is artistic gold; the other is bullion.

It can never be satisfied, the mind, never.

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American Modernist Poet and Insurance Executive