Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Wallace Stevens

American Modernist Poet and Insurance Executive

"A poet looks at the world as a man looks at a woman."

"Study of Two Pears - Opusculum paedagogicum The pears are not viols, Nudes or bottles. They resemble nothing else. They are yellow forms Composed of curves Bulging toward the base. They are touched red. They are not flat surfaces Having curved outlines. They are round Tapering toward the top. In the way they are modelled There are bits of blue. A hard dry leaf hangs From the stem. The yellow glistens. It glistens with various yellows, Citrons, oranges and greens Flowering over the skin. The shadows of the pears Are blobs on the green cloth. The pears are not seen As the observer wills. "

"A diary is more or less the work of a man of clay whose hands are clumsy and in whose eyes there is no light."

"A lady dying of diabetes listened to the radio, catching the lesser dithyrambs. So heaven collects its bleating lambs."

"A languid janitor bears his lantern through colonnades and the architecture swoons."

"A feme may come, leaf-green, whose coming may give revel beyond revelries of sleep, yes, and the blackbird spread its tail, so that the sun may speckle, while it creaks hail."

"A dirty house in a gutted world, a tatter of shadows peaked to white, smeared with the gold of the opulent sun."

"A long time you have been making the trip from Havre to Hartford, Master Soleil, bringing the lights of Norway and all that."

"A poem need not have a meaning and like most things in nature often does not have."

"A pear should come to the table popped with juice, ripened in warmth and served in warmth. On terms like these, autumn beguiles the fatalist."

"A tempest cracked on the theatre. Quickly, the wind beat in the roof and half the walls. The ruin stood still in an external world. It had been real. It was something overseas that I remembered, something that I remembered overseas, that stood in an external world."

"A too-fluent green suggested malice in the dry machine of ocean, pondering dank stratagem. Who then beheld the figures of the clouds like blooms secluded in the thick marine?"

"A scholar, in his Segmenta, left a note, as follows, The Ruler of Reality, if more unreal than New Haven, is not a real ruler, but rules what is unreal."

"Above the forest of the parakeets, a parakeet of parakeets prevails, a pip of life amid a mort of tails."

"Abba, dark death is the breaking of a glass. The dazzled flakes and splinters disappear. The seal is as relaxed as dirt, Perdu."

"Accuracy of observation is the equivalent of accuracy of thinking."

"After a lustre of the moon, we say we have not the need of any paradise, we have not the need of any seducing hymn."

"Ach, mutter, this old, black dress, I have been embroidering French flowers on it."

"After the final no there comes a yes and on that yes the future of the world hangs."

"After the leaves have fallen, we return to a plain sense of things. It is as if we had come to an end of the imagination, inanimate in an inert savoir."

"Ah, but to play man number one, to drive the dagger in his heart, to lay his brain upon the board and pick the acrid colors out, to nail his thought across the door, its wings spread wide to rain and snow, to strike his living hi and ho."

"All dreams are vexing. Let them be expunged. But let the rabbit run, the cock declaim."

"All history is modern history."

"Among twenty snowy mountains the only moving thing was the eye of the blackbird."

"All the great things have been denied and we live in an intricacy of new and local mythologies, political, economic, poetic, which are asserted with an ever-enlarging incoherence."

"Already the new-born children interpret love in the voices of mothers."

"An uncertain green, piano-polished, held the tranced machine of ocean, as a prelude holds and holds."

"And as he came he saw that it was spring, a time abhorrent to the nihilist or searcher for the fecund minimum."

"And it has to find what will suffice. It has to construct a new stage."

"And deck the bananas in leaves plucked from the Carib trees, fibrous and dangling down, oozing cantankerous gum out of their purple maws."

"And shall the earth seem all of paradise that we shall know? The sky will be much friendlier then than now, a part of labor and a part of pain, and next in glory to enduring love, not this dividing and indifferent blue."

"And the beauty of the moonlight falling there, falling as sleep falls in the innocent air."

"And what's above is in the past as sure as all the angels are."

"And the chandeliers are neat . . . but their mignon, marblish glare! We are cold, the parrots cried, in a place so debonair."

"And the whole of the soul, swenson, as every man in sweden will concede, still hankers after lions, or, to shift, still hankers after sovereign images."

"Angry men and furious machines swarm from the little blue of the horizon to the great blue of the middle height."

"And yet what good were yesterday's devotions? I affirm and then at midnight the great cat leaps quickly from the fireside and is gone."

"As if, as if, as if the disparate halves of things were waiting in a betrothal known to none, awaiting espousal to the sound of right joining, a music of ideas, the burning and breeding and bearing birth of harmony, the final relation, the marriage of the rest."

"At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make ambiguous undulations as they sink, downward to darkness, on extended wings."

"As life grows more terrible, its literature grows more terrible."

"At the earliest ending of winter, in March, a scrawny cry from outside seemed like a sound in his mind. He knew that he heard it, a bird's cry, at daylight or before, in the early March wind."

"As part of nature he is part of us. His rarities are ours: may they be fit and reconcile us to our selves in those true reconcilings, dark, pacific words, and the adroiter harmonies of their fall."

"Be thou that wintry sound as of the great wind howling, by which sorrow is released, dismissed, absolved in a starry placating."

"Behold the approach of him whom none believes, whom all believe that all believe, a pagan in a varnished car."

"At the piano, scales, arpeggios and chords, the morning exercises, the afternoon's reading, the night's reflection, that's how to produce a virtuoso."

"But I am, in any case, a most inappropriate man in a most unpropitious place."

"At twelve, the disintegration of afternoon began, the return to phantomerei, if not to phantoms. Till then, it had been the other way: one imagined the violet trees but the trees stood green, at twelve, as green as ever they would be. The sky was blue beyond the vaultiest phrase."

"Beauty is momentary in the mind, the fitful tracing of a portal; but in the flesh it is immortal. The body dies; the body's beauty lives."

"But the beggar gazes on calamity and thereafter he belongs to it, to bread hard found, and water tasting of misery."

"But I know, too, that the blackbird is involved in what I know."