Sunday, January 24, 2010

Large Red Man Reading / Wallace Stevens


Large Red Man Reading

There were ghosts that returned to earth to hear his phrases,
As he sat there reading, aloud, the great blue tabulae.
They were those from the wilderness of stars that had expected more.

There were those that returned to hear him read from the poem of life,
Of the pans above the stove, the pots on the table, the tulips among them.
They were those that would have wept to step barefoot into reality,

That would have wept and been happy, have shivered in the frost
And cried out to feel it again, have run fingers over leaves
And against the most coiled thorn, have seized on what was ugly

And laughed, as he sat there reading, from out of the purple tabulae,
The outlines of being and its expressings, the syllables of its law:
Poesis, poesis, the literal characters, the vatic lines,

Which in those ears and in those thin, those spended hearts,
Took on color, took on shape and the size of things as they are
And spoke the feeling for them, which was what they had lacked.

---
Wallace Stevens, 1948
from The Auroras of Autumn, 1950

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Wallace Stevens biography

3 comments:

  1. The words of a great poem are ridiculously precious, so please do not butcher them with misprints!

    1. Of the *pans* above the stove

    2. They were those that would have wept to step barefoot into reality (no comma after "step!"

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  2. The great thing about a blog (the beauty of the Betty Blog, if you will) is that every post is so easy to edit even after publication. It probably took me less time to make these corrections than it did you to point them out.

    Thank you for spotting and mentioning them. If you find any others in any other poems, please do the same; it's deeply appreciated.

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  3. You're welcome, and I apologize for my sharp tone in the first comment. That was an off day. ;)

    Again, thanks for the corrections and thank you for an excellent blog!

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