Thursday, January 21, 2010

Puella Parvula / Wallace Stevens

Puella Parvula

Every thread of summer is at last unwoven.
By one caterpillar is great Africa devoured,
And Gibraltar is dissolved like spit in the wind.

But over the wind, over the legends of its roaring,
The elephant on the roof and its elephantine blaring,
The bloody lion in the yard at night or ready to spring

From the clouds in the midst of trembling trees
Making a great gnashing, over the water wallows
Of a vacant sea declaiming with wide throat,

Over all these the mighty imagination triumphs
Like a trumpet, and says in this season of memory,
When the leaves fall like things mournful of the past,

Keep quiet in the heart, O wild bitch. O mind
Gone wild, be what he tells you to be: Puella. 
Write pax across the window pane. And then

Be still. The summarium in excelsis begins . . .
Flame, sound, fury composed . . . Hear what he says,
The dauntless master, as he starts the human tale.

Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)1949
from The Auroras of Autumn, 1950

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Wallace Stevens biography

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