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.
The infamous poet Wallace Stevens was born in the town of Reading located in Pennsylvania, on October 2, 1879. During his late teenage years, he attended Harvard University as an undergraduate from 1897 to 1900. He planned to travel to Paris as a writer, but after a working briefly as a reporter, he decided he wanted to study law. He graduated with a degree from New York Law School in 1903 and was admitted to the U.S. Bar in 1904. He practiced law in New York City until 1916.
Though he had serious determination to become a successful lawyer, Stevens had several friends among the New York writers and painters in Greenwich Village, including the poets E. E. Cummings and and Marianna Moore.
In 1914, under the pseudonym “Peter Parasol,” he sent a group of poems under the title “Phases” to Harriet Monroe for a war poem competition for Poetry magazine. Stevens did not win the prize, but was published by Monroe in November of that year.
Stevens moved to Connecticut in 1916, having found employment at the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Co., of which he became vice president in 1934. He had began to establish an identity for himself outside the world of law and business, however, and his first book of poems, Harmonium, published in 1923, exhibited the influence of both the English Romantics and the French symbolists, an inclination to aesthetic philosophy.
More than most poets, Stevens was concerned with the transformative power of the imagination. Composing poems on his way to and from the office and in the evenings, Stevens continued to spend his days behind a desk at the office, and led a quiet, uneventful life.
Though now considered one of the major American poets of the century, he did not receive widespread recognition until the publication of his Collected Poems, just a year before his death. His major works include Ideas of Order (1935), The Man With the Blue Guitar (1937), Notes Towards a Supreme Fiction (1942), and a collection of essays on poetry, The Necessary Angel (1951).
Shout out to my english class—This is what N was talking about in class last week. This is really interesting–check it out if you have time!
I was having difficulty looking at Wallace Stevens’ work so I thought I would share with you some of my own work. This is an exteneded metaphor on jealousy.
Jealousy is a weed.
It starts off as a seed.
Implanted in the soil,
It grows and grows.
The roots grow longer
And thrive on the wholesome soil.
As the roots grow stronger,
They latch onto the Earth.
Nobody can see this weed forming
Except the Earth can feel it happening.
Finally the seedling penetrates the Earth’s shell.
It grows, develops, and thrives
Until it is clearly visible to the naked eye;
Its development is rapid,
And it slowly overpowers its environment
Until mankind takes notice.
It is plucked from its poisonous roots
And annihilated—the weed is gone.
Overtime, the cycle starts again.
Aren’t we always taught to compare and contrast? It is really interesting listening to all these different readers reflect on Steven’s work.