Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Wallace Stevens; Susan "My Emily Dickinson" Howe, Wallace Stevens
Poet Susan "My Emily Dickinson" Howe and Wallace Stevens scholar Joan Richardson so worship, and tonight hit the pulpit at the Philactetes Center on East 82nd. They said this and that. Read some Stevens. Preached the word.
Being a group of western civ-central white people (sigh) there was alot of talk about categories. We white people like our categories. Is it a [Stevens'd work] poem? Can it be music? Rembrandt? Plato, of course, was mentioned. We white people like the Greeks.
Your intrepid reporter cum slightly sarcastic Stevens lover suggested that's why many poets create collages--music on words next to doilies next to a road map superimposed on Plato.
Catallus was the Platonic dialog referenced (though I jotted Cratallus). I didn't care about careful notes so I can't tell you which poem submits itself to Socratic questioning.
Susan "My Emily Dickinson" Howe talked about the opacity of "Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour" and how one of the lines (I can't read my notes!) (I'm so tired!) has lo and behold a word she looked up in the OED. Its fourteenth meaning was a bingo and she wondered if she was "the one reader" (equalling all readers) Stevens has written about. If he chose that word for her. He did!
Am I making sense?
Final jotted note: Peter Quince took a bite out of himself and winced. That's me. Rest assured that not even exhausted Sarah Sarai can ruin Stevens. Why? SHE LOVES STEVENS. She also loves the feeling of rearrangement signaling new work soon to appear. Howe and Richardson are lovely, by the way.
Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour
Light the first light of evening, as in a room
In which we rest and, for small reason, think
The world imagined is the ultimate good.
This is, therefore, the intensest rendezvous.
It is in that thought that we collect ourselves,
Out of all the indifferences, into one thing:
Within a single thing, a single shawl
Wrapped tightly round us, since we are poor, a warmth,
A light, a power, the miraculous influence.
Here, now, we forget each other and ourselves.
We feel the obscurity of an order, a whole,
A knowledge, that which arranged the rendezvous.
Within its vital boundary, in the mind.
We say God and the imagination are one...
How high that highest candle lights the dark.
Out of this same light, out of the central mind,
We make a dwelling in the evening air,
In which being there together is enough.
by Wallace Stevens, a great American poet