Wallace Stevens


American Modernist Poet and Insurance Executive

Author Quotes

It is true that the rivers went nosing like swine, tugging at banks, until they seemed bland belly-sounds in somnolent troughs, that the air was heavy with the breath of these swine, the breath of turgid summer, and heavy with thunder's rattapallax.

It was the custom for his rage against chaos to abate on the way to church, in regulations of his spirit. How good life is, on the basis of propriety, to be followed by a platter of capon!

Mother of heaven, regina of the clouds, o sceptre of the sun, crown of the moon, there is not nothing, no, no, never nothing, like the clashed edges of two words that kill.

Oh, Blessed rage for order, pale Ramon,

Out of the first warmth of spring, and out of the shine of the menlocks, among the bare and crooked trees, she found a helping from the cold, like a meaning in nothingness.

Poetry is an abstraction bloodied.

Sad men made angels of the sun, and of the moon they made their own attendant ghosts, which led them back to angels, after death.

Speak, even, as if I did not hear you speaking, but spoke for you perfectly in my thoughts, conceiving words, as the night conceives the sea-sounds in silence, and out of their droning sibilants makes a serenade.

The blue sun in his red cockade walked the United States today, taller than any eye could see, older than any man could be. He caught the flags and the picket-lines of people, round the auto-works.

The ever-hooded, tragic-gestured sea was merely a place by which she walked to sing.

The hero is a feeling, a man seen as if the eye was an emotion, as if in seeing we saw our feeling in the object seen and saved that mystic against the sight, the penetrating, pure eye.

The major men that is different. They are characters beyond reality, composed thereof. They are the fictive man created out of men. They are men but artificial men.

The people in the world, and the objects in it, and the world as a whole, are not absolute things, but on the contrary, are the phenomena of perception... If we were all alike: if we were millions of people saying do, re, mi, in unison, One poet would be enough... But we are not alone, and everything needs expounding all the time because, as people live and die, each one perceiving life and death for himself, and mostly by and in himself, there develops a curiosity about the perceptions of others. This is what makes it possible to go on saying new things about old things.

Death is the mother of beauty, mystical, within whose burning bosom we devise our earthly mothers waiting, sleeplessly… Death is the mother of beauty. Only the perishable can be beautiful, which is why we are unmoved by artificial flowers… Death is the mother of Beauty; hence from her, alone, shall come fulfillment to our dreams and our desires… Death is the mother of Beauty; hence from her, alone, shall come fulfillment to our dreams and our desires.

Freedom is like a man who kills himself each night, an incessant butcher, whose knife grows sharp in blood.

Her green mind made the world around her green.

I do not know which to prefer, The beauty of inflections, Or the beauty of innuendoes, The blackbird whistling, Or just after.

If it were lost in übermenschlichkeit, perhaps our wretched state would soon come right.

In his time, this one had little to speak of, the softest word went gurrituck in his skull. For him the moon was always in Scandinavia and his daughter was a foreign thing.

It comes about that the drifting of these curtains is full of long motions; as the ponderous deflations of distance; or as clouds inseparable from their afternoons.

It leaps through us, through all our heavens leaps, extinguishing our planets, one by one, leaving, of where we were and looked, of where we knew each other and of each other thought, a shivering residue, chilled and foregone, except for that crown and mystical cabala.

It was when the trees were leafless first in November and their blackness became apparent, that one first knew the eccentric to be the base of design.

Music is feeling, then, not sound; and thus it is that what I feel, here in this room, desiring you.

On a few words of what is real in the world I nourish myself. I defend myself against whatever remains.

Out of the window, I saw how the planets gathered like the leaves themselves turning in the wind.

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American Modernist Poet and Insurance Executive