Friday, December 13, 2013

Wallace Stevens: ...of the two dreams, night and day... "Hymn From a Watermelon Pavilion"

Something's wrong lately. I'm in a deprivation mode. I am become especially inept at the balancing act between work and all-I-love. So before I left for work this morning I told myself to read a poem. There are no windows of opportunity in my mornings. There is a half-hour of bathing, brushing, the luxury of coffee and I'm off. My life is "obscured by sleep."

But this morning I stalled and opened my new Wallace Stevens collection which I bought at the Strand on Sunday to replace my old Wallace Stevens collection. It had finally crumpled like a beautiful ghost in an Alfonso Cuarón movie. A Hayao Miyazaki animated film.

Sunday, I'd asked a nimble Strand clerk to climb the stepladder, which he ably did. Well and good. But as he handed me two books he indicated one and said, "Here's a good place to begin." Grrrr. I held my tongue and paged but couldn't hold it in, turned to his perusing self at the other end of the poetry section. "I'm not beginning." He grinned.

What an ego I have! And what a lie. Of course I'm a beginner.

Someone must have come before me to my new collection as it fell open to:

Hymn From a Watermelon Pavilion

You dweller in the dark cabin,
To whom the watermelon is always purple,
Whose garden is wind and moon,

Of the two dreams, night and day,
What lover, what dreamer, would choose
The one obscured by sleep?

Here is the plantain by your door
And the best cock of red feather
That crew before the clocks.

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.

You dweller in the dark cabin,
Rise, since rising will not waken,
And hail, cry hail, cry hail.
Wallace Stevens, The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens (1982)

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