Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Saint Augustine and the mud of...
 "The mules that angels ride":...
 "From the earth we came": Mythic...
 "More than sudarium": Ideas of...
 The "Last and tallest hero": Parts...
 "Of sky, of sea, large earth, large...
 "Breathe freedom, oh, my native":...
 "Engenderings of sense": Last...
 Biographical sketch

Title: Native of earth
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00097654/00001
 Material Information
Title: Native of earth the growth of Wallace Stevens' "fresh spiritual"
Physical Description: xii, 267 leaves : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Ackerman, Robert Dennis, 1936-
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 1971
Copyright Date: 1971
Subject: English thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- English -- UF
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis - University of Florida.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 261-267.
Additional Physical Form: Also available on World Wide Web
General Note: Manuscript copy.
General Note: Vita.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00097654
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000559297
oclc - 13457969
notis - ACY4747


This item has the following downloads:

PDF ( 16 MBs ) ( PDF )

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
    Table of Contents
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
        Page xii
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
    Saint Augustine and the mud of Brazil: Early letters
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
    "The mules that angels ride": Harmonium
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
    "From the earth we came": Mythic imagery
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
    "More than sudarium": Ideas of order and the man with the blue guitar
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
    The "Last and tallest hero": Parts of a world and notes toward a supreme fiction
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
    "Of sky, of sea, large earth, large air": Transport to summer
        Page 176
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
        Page 204
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
    "Breathe freedom, oh, my native": Auroras of autumn
        Page 214
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
        Page 226
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
        Page 235
        Page 236
        Page 237
        Page 238
        Page 239
        Page 240
        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
        Page 245
        Page 246
        Page 247
        Page 248
        Page 249
        Page 250
        Page 251
    "Engenderings of sense": Last poems
        Page 252
        Page 253
        Page 254
        Page 255
        Page 256
        Page 257
        Page 258
        Page 259
        Page 260
        Page 261
        Page 262
        Page 263
        Page 264
        Page 265
        Page 266
        Page 267
    Biographical sketch
        Page 268
        Page 269
        Page 270
Full Text

ohs u t, of '.1:..co .. ;all. A i"p "- '" r- p
OT r.P c : O" v'.r *:.. M:&. 1 ....

Ioc ,,,'" U",i -'.'2.;,. '; ", "y

l 1r;1:. .- c .. D" ; '

f : *;, '1., -. .. : . .-. .. ,o !- .

Copyright, by
R. D. 'Lcker1L9an
1 971

In icr.ic'A c'" .fc-rry


TI:o relationclbipr bot-c.6r. Wallace Stevanas oot.y .a!-d

his :;iJ.i-.tual btuii..E f us f.relquent.j.y betn noted over the

V'oarI'. Cc:-.-icn atitc;s: a r.ri ,;.u s h'.vo rvariod widely,; b.t ir,

tn oarl-i. C. thcr :e, *- t 1rC c I. O -t; atL-: '. of ag" "',I-C:I nt

Stover::- .' ., v: e i ,'a. : ,-..,' f thbe k- rag,. .ti.cn ai' t-'

tr :.i. .r: : t ar.- ..rli f.. C a f ;.:. *; C i.ton ...ik. ".. o; c

. h ... .t b 1 "i : 1 .'. ) r..ro -..f ',a i .L a c .-' Lt ; '-..-- ,

ba.csd?" VE :t-1*:;'.. t.h.02t .:1 ic/t Aa*vc'. n "hti7iU i O" Z ;

on "c i.' .: ,i "t: i.-- ., o." n ;;:o t' --
: . ... .. T.h e s ,' t ,:: -. .. : -, i -
,, -.. :.;. .' o. c,,;-' --, '.":, J; : -, uO, ..: tI .Q :;3c ... ;- /''- :"

L;.- '.. '* ohb. va-'i C .i; 1 "be ': 0. .u;s . thi :v1o s D1

S.cL bnr '. .; \ ol O ..J* *z.'.* 1 .* c s 'G .. i'-: in o o Cl;r' .

V 0
2. l'. .. . ,- '" '.; ... .., '. ;.- .>'X' ;,.' . i

h o .j :.. :' .. ,.,- .0. *, ..,-1 o: c o ".'-- '.. ..- .r c .- '. ,

19 .,1 '., .-' ".2: *'. .;1c t.a. T .: 'c.. -"t.. .. c0. "i. ;

'. i .. .. .- -, '.
( .. ". .. "' Ii- : .? : .*I .
(N2,2. .: 2s ,- .. .... .. j ... .. .

i- r i : .*0 - ;c' ': ) p J.-. ;.
... C3. U; J. ;'. ; l ,

t v,.-:.s :,oetry . is 3 conce.E.l to be at. pe- co I.lt r.:

sur:t.tn i n s. ,J t.i i.s cy. r:d-, nd.d wii h 'himsi H re!' r

fcr t." as T- C Drriel c *f the tcgct.hern ss oS f r..rli ..: andc

I1at":. . sme .thing to .isfy the dec-jt o g :

jionnr,-s Iof i'' -eiig.'ous fseeiin."'3 i 191 o- a--v.'r

Fe rFl:., sa. iS~;.: ~-- tqrcm.1ti.: our (' ? bl2J1 oi t .

Unlik. :n V. 1., h. has rP.u*ed to rov out, oi cur c:;I-re
.V .' E; 4 -"
:.tO o.: h r and to 3eek A c:o ; c-:icfn for c. p,-o:.,cl'-. ., cnE

.ci..ccvter of .t 'useu.e' for.r of b.ilef. Fat..r, he :

triid ::.o cru c,. toi object c belief r.iter thn Y "-

it.' n lr y, in.: 1P9 9 i ':hel B.a )." oLbso:-" 1: '

r. ..-: St.V t 3. :mov'ern. po:t .. i -

))eO .3 tris. 1] e y.r co S9-. E.t-e 13or our t.c L Y- & n

.,.*.- .,L i a .'-. .. '' "OC 3. '. a p !1

pritn? .:'.Le of uai c. art .c c:.....'. ** ..

'"u : c.: a sou, b.I. tir ul .fu.O r:c. -. .;.C ; '.
.... -C ,-.^ i ., .' . .-

6a)la-,.:.,.. to t;. :dce of '0 .

,..,. prc;T' :P f.. O2c cl .L 17 a, -'

-. .. --

S. .' '. . ,. ,. Lb i, .. . ". ,: ,
r2 1

.' .

-. c v :. -;.. .

"'. "iL C f c.1 ..

:-.hith Stevew r:;. crI:9t:ci, t,1.t, iS, tho .c: cL.. cc. t po:- i .:

i t.ell". 4hat t nr ,.r.ology can tf r u. e- n Lth

levl of .-tev.r..s pee ,ry osnd ciapture- the ztr,:.;ire p. cui..: r

v.', his. p,,-'i',i ? A>. Ja'riez Bair. d ;-otes ,.n iJJ. -.xcel) lent 2.&-;-.A.t

. ... ." 'h, t.r, -nd o'f late has b...,n to a-pi.roc.ch Ste vcns 1 ro:. a

,h...: ..:....cal. perspective. Baird goes cn to 2uo ; .rC lit.iits

t-. 1r .*r .' .-,cvnoac.h "it see .o mroe rr.r.: "rn vo S .'C .i

.. cr...; :w: Wil. tuan a-- Cx'po.iL rion oof ho -' o at Iornid."

i o n ;l: .) i i. '. jbuome a "tran..pare- y ::o tiat v0ie 'co:r-

r: d' il- : c,:'. r, n" cr.'.n be the poet's not itih cri.'ic ... ,

s'."'.-I ,'..; ovei; "' :*'' es ing subj ct" as t!he ":': it :-e;-c r. '.

th.- 'tK- :.':'" ; -' ". *o's n ]'.: ] p:. ?e, t3: , 1 t,; .t .c.? i-;.'; linoc A..

.h, ,o..,.a 3 t..v'l,"c" .' uJ it. p.'... e '-.. o." -'.'

.. :!i,.nil .-d .. ., th. iln tts o t::" r.-h .l"..s .i. L' ..:: .:. wa 'UoncI a;:'.'

i .t .;' i. .usoreatir. ti..e des;- of .-: ." t'he

i.'c, t.he ri, t .c t.' thle q'. ..-.C ..t..

1%*i1 c.
dib :, o tChe . 7io .].''- -. :I .' t:. p ' ,,v : S... c..e

bcc :, e u.;Lt. 1.: yet to be u':Sc,'..u L.' ; ', 2 r. ti..: .::j6;LoryI

tord ,~i 2tev s-n poct.o'y r.l.at.eJ to 1i... 4 .. : It .a

..,coi ..vi .:i : ; .h t *r ''" .r..r be. brot-, I'o ,. .:' .' :.. :. '.. '...c-r: ;e

Ui. CHi" 'P s ',.' I'< ].C ,SCe. r- lriS n p; t -j, -.-. d:., r J "3 :y jh.LK : "

c .i' ..";, :'' L.-. U"": in .hA Z'.; ."'- : i. 1:.. : ..u..dy th . 'or

t .'- "-. J ..s *. : .. a. .. .!L- ,., I :i aj y ,i..' i a e..- oc "

h. i. U .' : : ,i . '.. . .r , ot o n

.., '?5 i :,9, tr j.^ ;:-- 'r r' oj.c, i'c :^ O i ,t .. :" f-

t A b ,"
S. ....

.1' , ':e.. ". .::...' s : s"'. S o'nt .; "' \o r--. in:7r. 'Y. i C m'- i jux I.. .' ;..:- r ,bc

a.-- ....1: c 1' U."; I0t: N*rj' no e i. -ct?

i.'..cs iov- vejnjt- i rned the nyr',t C r :::: "t.' .- :i
St;v : :.- L-a C ,i ln, C of~ ine t .:ra c

S;tv.*,e :l :O n.: :,: ,l e i .a e j c:- :f r c .ul .-tr r . at

:H;ii 'on it..': tradi. t.j.oIa rr l.l i.ou;' j o .nl; of . i t.y .:d

C.. o p i .. t :.Addeod ,that "4 :. u: .. :.n /;

iIr.conf: C.cin,-; and .r.A r... y. '." c.r ,hror: ;'::- .:..

c. -.c, '. in : n 197" mc onjo;sv.r .... t-n& c. Sc..:v" .j., pO- t 1.: 3

i';o.:: c=u-d be scs:i as "rr, .hic StWa..'tin, .. ,. :.. i

:Ln:lusiv e 5ide of myth, .-'o s. able t-. p ;.; :-

pen.zar,. nsinht i nt.o the rrnJ.atj o.is: 0 i- :- O .' *:..- -.r ,;-

w;or"l J.2 the poetry cand the .b tr..a 1-... ..,. 7,L -

w; 1 ct illns: "Poc.t .. seo i'nuii\ ; :-. .> c.IL.. ;c .

ph'.'. liy iden'L.cal: :.n ;th-:r' ;..v,':- 1.siiy : ,;. ;!.. j '.

,ny: ohs . Suchi myths .. . p.lay : ..' :. J i:- .. .. .: '

Sir. cTy. r'.y s "L to qr.it. the 1.70. .iM h... .' .

"i..n Ork..'i nary .nr in ::ca.-r na .. .*

\-!ny, then, inr uiL:
r f .: .: ' **' c3 t"-:. o 1' b:: 'n. : w'ru-o
N' . 'f.t :ef" 1 .. 1 .lv. 1 o :-)J. 1

V os... : : .,ied in .. n 1,i:.., *:.. w O ': : 7
Si-- .. 1 ,-'. ,
.. o .. : : 2 .; -

:n .' : :; :' ",i. '; >. .: '.L .:A .. ...In :i, .. .* : -
.. ... .T Y ,. .* tC. 2: :. o 1 . 1.
.C. ':, ;0,'.. *( 2 '..' J* ;l "i'- ; ., ",. ,, ,r :,:."..? i; Li .'.i A i '.

'{ -J ,^ tJo O :' .*;r : ... *v ;.; ; .*',,'*

.'ry': ob sc:..*v 3: c -. .' ry : oti.ds 'el -:;iou and in f i.c

doa. r.' -,; th'' in i'nite ".r- pec'..lve of .vel.Lgion. Such

].a:g,,a e- I.:..'*; ;'* zi y .- 1 ot go t.ii rel giou; cc. mi tmi r:n; Ln

.i.t. .l. p r'l.y poe try ap ai ang a poetr,' 'rni.:;t t ;h ir,
gct: to crtai.i pitch of rmetuphorPical cc;centra.;.on.'

rr ri.-., the-n, it .Lj thin levei or pi7 .":". of tb- poet try

i;h:' : unitL-.:' the individual eand the class---,ad thi& 1l,'l .'

S!T, h. 1 :) '.ic'.e th '.t in t i:., d-ri. sion of St-v.- :v : I-C.o tr.t

can ,.: fT'rcd the record of hi:; f'rei- spi-. : tual, the oi.. of'

conrt ct bILt:'.:een: hS:,.z devoci.on r',, c.-'. sc' y X.e:-.? :2 r enf,' !: i BiS

nt.iri tual belief :i.r: the im:nagi ir.tion of rsmn,

My r.e .:",o2 throug~,io,; this st''dy s.' ill be- to come:;.--

trabo, ''hen f a:_ ible, on .,tev. ': Icnger p mci., '.herl ..*Ls

ryt.ic e.2:.mntts cro usually :1.. conspicuu. iy

ai, ix ":.0 t'Ace the ILj.n lin-' 02n 3bo', c -" itu:..! t:-.:" .. .' -

mc -..0o iBui6 my final. p;u.ose .3io to provide a )a sopectiv '. '

appreciating the .K-- .m. , J:.i o cf t.hu L .'t 0.t.<; .'. ".o..

launching S, to t1.e .-tudy pr:.'c.", t'hn.v. iert i o J a,;.* ."'y

If rtlh, r tt.., i.ica cf poet C: y to' I'; n ; cticn s rv y

the a ry bhic ch'.c.Icteristics rn,'j th c. d '/ev l..p;,'i of .St-. ...'

:-'xt-.:.": in. o, :".'.: : a (:.'..ab.lish 3 bar.:. ,. \' the' Oi'*t-:.i. ted
':'1 t .. ,*-' t ? L :c ne t -.: t.-.

'' "::- "f.ali2 tic C'i",l .:. A ',1ti :. of \.'cslJl e&
it '.%- m.'-,'" '" .' -. .l n .evi '-, 1 ,Aut.u : '?5 ): r-:L. in
i'f.l[ ..:..- : :. ":,: ~.-L '0o.I. oc3;1 ,n of Cri i :ti L -. : .., pp. 7. ,
1 *^ -"7 "' "





A. STl' ACT . . . .

. x

. . a


Ch .ap t .-:.'


:.:, "'r. RULESS THAT ANGELS R:ri:': H TM[lIIT

IIi. "FROI TH '- '.,.- CA' "


.TV "!... T"RI".1. SU .":.y. .,';".: : ':r ." ":c1 ,*0
:t'. thi MA *r'' 1L jk 15.1 T, L: ... .7. ..

':C1C' D .-' .. . t '....... . .1. .. .

V. . *V . T "7 , .' -. / r
*.I1( r',-'- Y .' .' al.... .. .i
V.1 L i. ,' "'. ..;,' ,tR .. . . . . "

Vr-.'T ::' !, : '" .. .. i ... ...^ [
rj9,i i .5; '()' s.:.: . i,: S S. S S

;, ,.,'.i :,l .^' C'. "h.C", I '. ..* -. *

l"'i':ED .:;. :-."3 CM' 3 3S'S": LAST P G EIS .

J I > tl. ,..- .... i . .' . .: ,

a~ C C S
c n a


*i yE5

t Q

* '*

c G V

f .

1 9

* I

Albot.rr.ct of Dissertation Pre.:.entc.d 'o the
Gra-.u:;ct Council of the Univerit;, ., Fl;' l ida il. FPartip. F'li' J. i:: nt
of the hcircu.ir-e:nent, for tho J..'ree of Doctor of 'hilosophy



R. D. Ackorman

Jiue, 1971

Chai3.rmnn: Gordon E. Bigolow
Mjor Dep a r tmn t: Engli sh

Wa'.lace Stovens pI.'cc.l.n M : "The gr;acL t pvi,'''r'.-'.y ..v

not to live / In a physical world." Y. t. his ocn Doolry 1::

unu, i.a :..:.l, a.bst -acit.; it rar-ely provide:: : .'.ciic (:' .;....:"; ,- "

-'.ij.l.C, e. 'riio uoilib u i ;..h.is study is that o' ..'u .'er ..;:. '

f1r..e:io.'rs pri ar'i.' as myth', thal; is, uc an an bat.4rt t. poc .:

,'".... .l-': -. -"t U ac atini t}ihec u-.roiuuv o .' ,:aci c d e "II'i. > nc;
r.t ..;ce i t :.a mythic i, lar e.: L U.. .-; : t i"

z: i .-. c'" 1 & i;...mic a %i t.iri:& be\*.'OCn tho i:.Uuix.. 10ioC. L C

...:. ... . ....... -,.t ; C. h c;.. .c :. p r .: i it '.. ; ,> th <.. : ', .'o: .. o'.i F U' t

Chf t'...,. ,:f%.. .t..,..',< ..' .. 2 ;r.d 1 i. .....c r: '. U' '".- ;; c '- .

.i-w,:n .' j V ", '.. Zil, : ': .-,'.;r.',\ ;.-...' .i-j *Th of pr2,.'20 : ., &,:''.. ..- .-(-

Q'( .LC'C 2;;) &;v.>..iJ ^ i> L LiA ^ *. Ci L hlCh r Liyter i ij I:WW 1'1 C rJ

.;:, : i[,i to .set, ti.c -.;'.- c on '.'f-i h S t.,'>.. : poetr

.. ." : :.. *- c 0 L. t ., : ,

:. ioL s of St -efl. . ". .. ....... -!C

more tha-n aes h. .b.i.;.c; *n-, .u '' a ,: T:* . "x .

rs 6 c al Ir.. I "'A '.7 4. A.

i.i o dep. . f h :- I.i ,i "..L. :,." .. .. -; .. .. h- -c

fr th1 in t'i.: .: .. -.o -.3 rY. :;c:-, .. : ,IA'n 1"

'Lon .
the t 3.ct hr :- 2n>ei.2.t iA..n ^-*= n poo t '':*' rit .,C. -

urc-z-;cpI; !..i pi .. r OJ .., 1-:. in .c Ni .

)' l. . t; :. .. . c :it. i .t i-r5 .o; C. 1-

ri n t L : 1t .) 7.r-t. >.r: c;r or t of (I.V. nly :t .3ini'LzJy

.$ c 2 4 ..4 d '. .. .r*.i1 X;-2. Li- tu th1 f :'2. ^ o>f i .s.

ia>l :.1 L -- .)' tI ; ; 1:'-':I .. .. : ....

.. c .;- ^ -le :^ ;: -n a ; '
u . 's : --' 1 *. 0cc ; r \.i o.; (& ; :;'. ^; t5 <' E *' ': a' .

t.."r- '."- ..r cSri.- 'ci .r r.' ;.r :.

*hi ii : LR'^ f li :c i '.* .- .. I **-. . C

p',etr" of hi, '-' .st volu ei; iIarn:,or. dccreates ror 'a..ti-

cirsmn while bxr:i.;-,inG transcendent spirit inr.o the "fluttcr--

ing things" of c .rth, leaving him in a fresh and enigmr:.tic

space bounded by the frontiers of imagination and phys:-cc.


Ideas of Order enables Stevens tc more clearly

differentiate these two finalitie:; and to explore the

spiritual meaning of the imagination, a theme which 'he Man

.with :; .jlu'e G(uitalr contiLues. By this pon Stovenu is

also .sensing the importance of the spontan.-.'ous moment and of

the magus poot .-Iho steaks that moment into existence. Parts

of n W.'or-ld and Nlot.es toiuard a .'nrrcne Fi t on 'rro;id'en }'i

idea oa' t-he poet further, e~xalt.:ng him as hurc, while

St.v- s imai..-ics hinmsolf into the role of central poet.

; osi .. .;, .h 1 dere:'c.tioius have cont4,:.ucd an.; the natural

oli 'i.t. t:. hLf'.'.V .- iI:re sirngly pO rnieated hi.i poetry, cunin- ti'

: iL.h ', re:-.' t r:,1 r.!i Or i3 ,: :.f ',*.-P:-I, ort. to Stv-r,: 1" i dl Av:.1.' ,.

Cof r.utr .2. )Her': both hi truth of su.-cmr.; .,nd .o.e .o'ws ,).

a...u...; ,a-~e wr. t ar-? u'lnin a 're sh smiriJ. t,.uU, onv'.irorirm nt,

in tb.:.- "thirn.. -: ,f t.hi world ar'd, the city of nian. SGt,..''".:

,in-:. ". -.i ciI'i :.. :." ,>--.i 1., e hli'l't) *" ." t is- ;e 0 ,.I- io.-nr'f.l
1;C(iX --il. 8 i -liko &t.L.:! tc. is E.


:'rt ... ai fresh spniritual that he dfoines . ." ("An
Ordi.ary Ervning in New Haven")

For t i 'en the "greatest poverty i.s not to live /

in a phys:.c.J. wor'ld... Yet his own poo try rr',r.ly

p;'. c .-ide, : .r, :s ns of physical im .nQ.dija.cy; insLtead, j t j.
four.,:-d c'.: va st abstraction of nature. Suni, :noon,

c'uji-.-r, .''.. :; .sea, sky, wir.i, rain, rmount-ain. trc., rock.s

bir-.-.'-al. itn. oL,i.'. natural clement are pros6nt but

:'uit y o.-.-: 't.cd in 9a .i:Eagery that is remote from .i-'r u-

i par-.:. icul.;.ri 'd experience, althouL it cl.brr.atea t'

spii':tual po-.-ni ;: a) of such experience for tle irr ai-a,:ict :

The l' u ,u-! oJ sLuTerrP and. the: inter oranc .
jt'hsee. ar" the )lsrS:.;re s destined f'or her s .' ;. .7

.? T;':! poetry \ac i JtruiLent and nrr? 1..at: o- ..jC

quest CurY s;..>i Luti. rieaning, an for expCri-'. of M'. t','

socred, but its :rimpetuis rr.veloped out of cx.Pi'cnle '. th;

Tra C2 :.. *OC:.t 0. .p.'. "-" 'V' un-L' 'Jln*or): o:

Yon?: Oa l: n::- Qa_ 01: r '^:
hj* i .- (2 ": .e O. iS C i 1 (4.0 lo k "' r: IVr.

S.' . ...: 0. ;. *... on .. t "' L c :'.'--

i. ?. .: .1 o o. i., o To '. nce, swe ,T, A ll'i ,NiY..11
-' i- ..., ( '': .-i ,l I.as : o .v .rd Univ. ; r.- -;; ,
..i ''* 1i -'.: :.':1snc&, S-r en 1T. Th .......

(:' : c:.J & : '." .> a '' '. -.c .y jni aseld. u '. iY'.. .
ima'g <,*: ar .D .it\ .r', 9. b.O or spcci i. tree d6c t.t.'. n.y r-
,,- Of-W A ,, ,.:I '' 2 C : O ,

n0, 14 2 V,"VVW0 / % I & Pon W Ui "

i. -'. 'J'- -. L':r;; i... ,::., L 0f &.x- - o primitive m-un is

g. -.....ly r I : d-:-.r.,.1.o.-i exp rience of mLat which embodies

thI ":* i.l.; o Ct.:.r," ultimate reality. The sacred, then, Ha

'irc. A li. -.in-i;T.Km ain)u. is "saturated with bem'.n_ ."

St.cvcn :1 .rly I:tter.' testL.ify to his sense of the unreality

or' rDiT~l1 li.' n11.d Lth. incapr.city of his Christia.n; heritage

tou s.C-ie..',*.e his senIc of the physicall wrc?. To:e best

..'-c-J.e front? his e&aly poetry of his response t.o a proi'ne

-..r). is "D.;:i nation of Black": (8-9). 1. j : ono o'f i:: i'-.

r' .riy poems with a sense of personal i.r~ucivta.ny, nid the

cxpe ....-:n 2.or-trayecd i. a whirl of turning 1o.veves ad. clor:

su1)T'.'tihme,' by the blacr.ness of Lne henll--: . ---: the scrl-:L oi

the pr.n oc:' There Ib no ult, Llia 'o lit y in the sirky j: uic;!,

the oNysicL... things of earth can embody. The p:o ,.:jn-


Oat o '...I '..)do
I saw h: 6,;;- plants gathered
i"kce leave:c themselves
Turning: in tho ;ir d.
I .saw ho -.: the rnigrtj carrie,

S 'i- ? e., n'd the Prof.a-i trans. Ailllard R,

. J C- y : S.I "- -- ...- .'''-
h.iz ,c. u,,.'. : tI .r' c: in, ?:' i- r'.' 'r : '. -,"-- -. .1
\;"':.1. .. t.CaK '. "'ic., c 2 t :' dc .l., to bDO a S i. t > '2,. i '.!.tC :,.:.
r d r. .....y i f . ca :-"m .:.. p 2- r. so u~ .-*.ji. :.i '"
n r'-'. 0 D- U
( 3^ ) '-.ree y ar.s l .r ".i- ,eKId, : ".n lch f1? -ru :' ti. .
'"t iL :- ;,-.t t;':. LYt.? r -.::lCi icus o ', in .A'3 wor-;i s r .:'. t1h .

sor-i ."- t'.. -*a. .-: h7 C. t h 3.-'i* i' 3 i .i s .:r- t. : -. ..--
d, -.. c, . . I row: t.ir d .c- r i' ,-art, of ..th-:-- I'.":c y . t
S .. 8- ).,

C:'.j- iri :t ring lije'.j ? color of the heavy hemrlocksr
I .'Xl t afraiJ d.
.;nd rmz':,bcreud thl.: cry of the peacocks.

"':ln'; ,:rnce-fi:xed stars Pre turning in thu wind, and the cry of

,ie p-acoci:s is also t.hu poet' response to a profane uri-

tE..V::..ll3 found 'in n;wer to hi:- spiritual dilemma in

th- -it gf poetry. The l.uiusually ab -tract fabric ofi his

poetry f'u:nctions as a nythibc screen, a living conduit

;betc;n sensoryy e:pcrienco and the spiritual ro.sevoir cf

the j.i:..:.nat.ion. Here, in the environment of hin elemental

i,.l',.ge: y, j.:"' the foundation of his fresh spir.tl;u..1 as weRll as

:the ,ct-ti..n of his ideas. It is this level Ofi "poetic

mlTthol ':" whichh is, as Northrop Pr-ye observes, the '"con-

crete, ucrnsati:onal, figurative, anthropr.moirphic basis out -of

Vwhi .h rhc. i:;f'or.';:-ir; concepts of discursive thought come,"

I;i ;i cJose contar.ct with seonseory o- experience the

spi.:ritual pensionion of Stovens' poetry points away from tI-he

i'al '; cf abs rac'. ideas, while as mythic abstraction it

rrtsei.jblu primit.lv;o myth in providing a frani.e:ork- fcr iiyr -

liste ex;'crj since, p t;L.- aico notes the "tu.ndencyc of

cCr.te&nmlorry To:..;.s . to be atttractL.: toward myth and

rr, taph]i, ; i r..'.ler' t'.n ;"i.'.rd a reali.s.i.c ;,iuph .si sa ,;'n --

t.:.', . E: sc.iw re he rIo'.tes thiis tr:clti.on to th;,

i.r L\:c: e f pri lti ve .9- :, of wmat.ever ai.ge or

"N) e,: Lireie u unfs ',3 "ro1. Old, ." in VN. t.1 :t. Mv t[I.n '.3 .-
ud. i:]r: ', I.ur- y 'l ",w .. Yo r: :' ; .or, 'bJ); rpt. i .
F'abl : oC Id.nci t *' (N;;: Yo:-r':: i iarc-.'..I-L ., LBraco .- 'or .d,
Z;%-87 ;;,

on im.; The Tr .m.'.itive, wi;th its immediate connexion

',ith .:*cgi(, .. 3 .-< a i-L.'ectne2ss of imaginative impact

w!ich 1.; nro.'..:. an-J yet .:onv'.erntion.aiized, spontaneous and yet

proc.L.-.". 'IThe o:ly pocr, "Ploughing on Sunday" (20),

PT ro'.'ies a : 7i;'r1,l i'll?..ust:r,--tion of this primitive-like and

abstruct qui:J.ty of Sr.cvo-ins' poetry.

Tn.- ,'Wio ..e c c: s tail
Tss ~s in ti.: wind,
The turi:.;,-c.o-k s tail
3 tters in 'te sun.

W*.ater in the fields,
The wind pour dciw:n.
'l'he feathers flare
And bluster in the wind.

hr-mns. blow yo'-r horn
I'm ploughing on Sunday,
'.ouGh'.r.ng 1orth A n'.rie-s.
D 'o;.; C-,).r ho.-nl

Ti- turn- tiZi- tu.. I
The turkey-cock's t.ll
Spreads to th: sun.

.r':e white cock's tail
S:.-.n~.s to the moon.
,a'tcr in I..L- ficlds.
Th e wind -ipurs 'o%,,n.

The'r-; is no attempt in the poem to describe an imrrrmdiate

ex;peri .-n. For ex-n'ppe, Stevens does not picture a bcn'

o>i :&c; u.'lkin bsh id a wooden plo'; being pulled b, .

hors thr-'.;h the pu- 1:,'. ';3 "1:' of thej pocm i3 plcu !i.

lrorth Ai-rrica, -nd nor. o:n a parr.ictula'-r day in '916, say; but

..1-n .a? a rea.ive inci.0 e in the Arts, in
'h i :1.' I i 1r '. : ::ss.i',sT in }o '.o..' r"' P i "..i r 1.-'1 "' "

.. ;.j1. O'i GI'. I

.'.* .'..y.. The poem's jnagery deals in clusaes of things:

.-.I cock's tail tury- tail, su, wat.r, wind,

f3:th:.rs, moon. i Stov:.ns' mythic imagery unites the

inr.:LividuaL and the lanG.-:, as Frye maintains, it dues not do

so- i t.he course of the poemrr thr.:'isElves. On the other

haui, it is conceivai;le that Stevens: abstract imagery

growz u of his o-- particularized ex-r.ricnce and leads

b-.:K- ino it, even *chIe.gh the immrmeriate moments of experi-

c;:- : a:,.e not captured in The p;ocj.i3. Although this po-

]..oriy':.ys a physical world, the picture is as formalized as

ii t. l. And it is tiJhose abs',ract forms of natuxe' that looming

large in Stevens' poetry. They do not flucti.rn ais con-

ccioLc, roali stic counters b.t as childlike pictures or.

primllti.v' pictographs. I believe it is this fuun.lpeivntal

ch-..:act:a 'stic of the puotr.y which handal). Jarrell. has in

Und i.ien hleo cays: "At the bottom of Steveins' poetry thier

iis wond n'' and delight, the child's or animal's or savage's--

mnui' s---j cy in his orwn existobnc. . .

jL.iI.in;,j with this primitive, abstract environmental of

the pctr-y to f.frm thp mythic level are Stevens' various

rep ose'.ato-:- o t' e; pcct ..s a i.agus. "Ploughing on

Suncs.yv, f.jr inst:tnce, has the 'b)-eat of a chant, and J.icle

h'.:u: i, an early vr-'i.on of t.. charnci'.g magician.

.tev. .41 s l..im.3.istic po-.t .figure, however, appears rivre

7 "The Collscted oenxs of '.WaVllace Stevens," 'f ,- i '". e
R i.',',r h.. (S-.... ?'): rpt. i.t- The Achicvc-ment of l .4- u
Stcvens,, p. ''87,

c.criy 3.i J.rc p:.c":: uch ; s in th so lines fro.i 'The M:

i 't-.: the Bluc 'iJLi 1, i-," :

IHs hicJ i r-.he world up:n his. nose
nd this-..-wy he gavye a .l. f."g.

His robes and symbolr, i..-yi-:;.--
And tha! -a-way he tw-i'ed e cc: ihing. (178)

G('::ald L,, Brri.n has recently rela't d ti:; aspect ofC S3everns

pIncety-, to the roalni of myth. Ht n..tin that Lot

HIcidegger and Sitevens atttrj'but to i;oetry an enc. oit, origi-

nally r;ythic, finmc lion. . Ti6 power of the poet is onc,

r:ore the powcr of Orpheus; his u?.oility to call up as from

noC 'jhre a world in which mran may dwell."

But the world that Stevens ui.mons- is f'i.urat^n

of the :.J.nd; it in not the world man lives in., altho-ugil.i I

constitute. a ;way toward that world. RFe'!s cc;'cent. on tih

rmcacde;n wlritor's aversion to realistic content ai'e well

suited to St.evens--who largely does not capture in his

poetry the sense of a partictulEarzed wo:l3.d. Ra L.hc-r, the

elc;eiental .bstl-actions of his pU.,;:'ry r ..r:a :'.ic o 'the

exterlt that they function as a spiritual m.odc of pcrcCptioC:.

Pi.t ihee3.wright obscrvc; that m.yt.h is not a "f"cticr-.

ii:pooszed upon one,'n blr.-cead; .iven L.;or'LI- but -ins a "'^y of

ap.rlJig tha t world. 9 .r.t d tiui hu th ryth

side ,I te.\s n' pob-:Lry from o l;er- fonis of s .byboli c

F: "eo' ry nas Ieali ,'y: The Orph':-.u- I1y'.h mjd ILs
-:-.. o r- n Lr.' )rt:., .LH, 37 (1970), 285..

'Th. i.uc.n -:. atin, rov. *ed. (lc.-,inJ.. ci; 'n-.
Indii. z ti-vTE inT oS *7I'7np. C',
1' 17:7-
L e, 3 I;

*.<-' .vi.': t. &'.he degree to which it cieavos to th'e sensory

:.'..rl( ::;.!:i re.-:u.lt from ni act of belief that transceodot

co::-. .-:.a Si t.rctinctions .)Otw.wce subject ai.d object. Ersu-i

',.s.l'.e-r :-writes: "In tho iriage myth sees a fragment of

r.ub'.sta It..l reality, a part of the mnattrial world

itself' . [ wile] religjion strives toward a progrecs-ively

pu.rer siri.'ltualization." Ho ge s on to separate these

mythic'..L and religious i'or-rs 1o consciousness from aesthetic

on sci-. ne ss, whose inages "confrss then;solvcz to te

i.lu.:,..'.nm as opposed tc the empirical reality of

thinr . ,"; illusion, though, which camn become "for the

spirit a: 1'ure expression of im3 o..wn creative powerr'.' ilse-

ihs.,se >-:: di.ds that in "the mythical imagin-ation there 1:.

-l.,ays i:.,pl:u an act of bIelief.' 10 'he l.iythic di.mnsion oi

,.,c.,'~c.?: poc.tr;y grous out of a faith in tb6 immediate ::;. cent

of sensory o.pceri.nce, and a belief that man's -word can

tpeak thtq r.i-ment into bSin-. Stovens clai'is that a "po.t's

:.'ords azr of things that do not exist ..ithout the w:o'rdu

(N., 32), it tho center of Steve:-s' pot-try is a belief ir

the pctenti.l .i.; it.'11r'l tic-sh ip of .word an.rd thin. Hn s

c'mpha .,: j.. i nei th l tow' d the si ritual t p u t of r i!. ou,

c.'n.nlc:.ousnesr3s r,-.' t,-CfwRrd t::o ab.-tract ].l.usion of tho

tt. ... :.*.....:, 'h.,O (-.ZU.j ;-:.ii n/ C his own .plrii-. is fo.j' .Stevcrns

.3'iln:)ily ,-, i'i !.."rati., of e? jarth. A stti.ennit by Jo e;ph

h p-'r.ilosc.h',h of' ..' bl ic. b-on V71., 2:
., ''.. 'tt: Un o, i Lr.t .T' 's z ipii l pi ;.<..JIc2: k,''O 7: f>v .:f Y l e
In...v. . . ; .i ) P. ; ;.n (,.: (:. K- : Hr.o\o : Yal].
::,: .. Pr'... : ,!;| ). P. 7$ .. ..

C.L:n-beUl p'ro.idet s pt.r.ein for the cardinal direction. of

.:i.ovens' o\;i thought: 'th m st vi'.al, -.,o;z critical fTunc--

rion of a mythology , .is to foster .th centering and

unfolding o the i,]ivi.6u~x. in .intgricy, in accord with

himself . .his culture . the urtivcroc . ard that

awe.-c.nme mystery whi c-h is both beyond and nd within himself andT
al]. thinn, . it is time now to traco briefly the

unfolding of Stvens' poetry arid thouSht in accord with his

.idea of che nobilii.y of tne imagination (the self), his icr

of living at the centr.r of civil.ied goon sense (the

culturee, ij.s idc- of opening himself tc the decc.r:-acic'n of

:-.he o.'.e : s (the u'i,'.'e se) and his con.st .. o ier.'.:a ic: to

t;e lny:-.t.e y ivi thi.in : d without .


Although Stcvons e:rly recogni-zd poetry s poi.me-j

tial myth--"Poetry is the supreme fiction, mrada:ae" (59)--the

physical world of his first volimne of poems, Harmoninjum

(1923, 1931), is as spiritually enigmatic as the flutteringig

thii.;s" (18) of "Lo eHo.cle de Mon Oncle" or the "insoluble

i-uip" (45) of turnip in "The Comedian as the Letter Ct0-

Ste:,.'ns' experience of the sacred continued to depend on hi.;

ci.'icovery of "Bravura adequate to this great hymn" (16).

The real drama of his poetic development is reflected in a

.1 The Masks of God: Creative Mytholozg (New York:
Viking, 1 960T7,' p. P.

.v d.la~Ijrly :i-i.,c-ein- spiri tual. sacg3es biveness in voice and

iriagery, Before oxpcricnce of earth could be sucralized,

the "great poem of lte earth" (NA, 142) had co be under way.

The "rJi- g ';f men . [bo] chant in orgy . Their

bois.Ltrou2 devotion to the sura" (69-70) become eventually a

"'ii.fure l:ike Lccl.siaaSt, / Rugged and luminous, [who] chants

'.i the darlk / A text that is an answaJr, although obscure"


TI HFrlloniiuim Stevens announces his quest of "tho

origir and cour:-se / Of love" (18). His poetry as a whole

tos.tifie- to the centrality of this pursuit, whichh is in

fact '. search for "presence," Philip hI'l'..r'i;ht h.s

observ-td: "To kIno so.ione iS a d. d preserc j.Ji,.nj tea.d of 's e.

lut'p c. :': .atr:er or set of prccess.es, is tri meet hir. with ran

open,, istening, rsponrive attitude; it is to becoie, a Thou

in t.h .r.oncsen of his -hood. . The sense of presence

r.i'y be ft-Lt toward i2,ianl-'ate objects as well, A

pr.. cncr. 1s a mystery that claiirn, our awe. Ste\~-nT s-ys

thiaL.. p;t ":' intent on what lie sees and hears and tLe

:-,nse of t]e certainty of the prescnces about him is nr.

otin- ..- r.-he presence.: tjihemselves" (OP. 19 ). There funda-

"en-.i t.-.ive of Stevejs' p.oeiry- i. to ar'd v. 1v r'l..:ton-

-i 'p t.'j ti, the- i.ihX.y i'i olnr'.L. He strl'.1.i Co bccoXme .' ';'ou

J.:i }t : p.r :-en c. i ,. -h..o. i. rliu r -ort'.. both exaltr. man's

Hi e .nor e': Rlality (Blootinoton, ind. : d ...ri.
Univ0 Presr. 1i9 ,- p. L.:.

r".a:-',: c.r:,; ca divinity and decros Les 13 romantic modes 'f

pe:rcption that interofere with the imagination's opcnnezss to

t.he I c.(' earth. Stevens asserts: "'re must somehow clan)se

the imaginaticn of the romant-ic" (NA, 38); the ''world has

been pi.i.ntcd; most riodcrrn activity is ;t.tjtng rid of the

plint to get at the world itself" (L, 402). It is in the

vac:'nt. space; left by his decreation of romantic modes of

experience that the mythic elements of Stevens' pe.try, take

;root and grow.

All the while that Stevens' poetry decrep.reL in

order to expose rcho earth finally in its "essential bnr''er.-

ne6s'" (37.3), the natural forces of' carth ent.-r t.he pcctry .-

:. b-trl "ct forms which structure the ro.v : of t.-vc...' c.:n

Arcetic.:L.. J. ilillis Miller clairns that in -'.eis'

poetry there is "no rich echo oaf nufc,,; and mean.nz from the

poc--tic tradtlcri, as in ELict or Yc..:ts. God is dead, 9nd

with hui died tie heaven, of consc.C. ~ .-<-,d .-.ymiL:bol coming rlW-.r

through the Christian or Platonic a.:e:,''" As we; have

observedc Stevos' elemental abs..r.act'ons grow: out ofi the

;-.r'Th in th- way s of priwltive myrit; thov L.argrsly do not

derive rc.. liter'ar t-,-.d..ion. Even che ooetry of

Al-o .' venI
)1 3 orrc..i;' from i.nt.'-n- :/eil. S;e'en. says:
"Co; .t.. t.-:, ,'- is r a' it.0. :f uecrL at ion. . ." He I r E-
u-cn'.. .U / 2it.22- che uosit ci. 'cul us nf nec-a.icnrw. In this
).'-,:-s s -.c t}.: idea of d cc ae, tic t I. i ,lZ.':< uO t"..- Lc',-iowld'.', --
l:Tei tha. t :')ic.. m:. s c'-:6' ;;tio .s .:. *ot ,1 1' reve. ::ti. it.>:
of i' .-L t the'i: eL' :0; ; I. or 2 tc : t )i' o: U0 pol C. i,':: '"
(i i 7 .- .
1 .tL s f r .-aLJ t '. t -3'1 .

HI.roLi-uf .Is f'ucd.cd In a p.riri tiv-likc envi-Lronment

cent.erod in the "TimCe.i..s mother;' (5) earth, who is also

"Death the mother of beauty" (68), -and presided over

by the giant tree of procreative life. "To which l11 birds

coine sometiiric ii. the.r uimcc" (17). It is a naturalisti-2

world t;yified by ravenous., "srine-like rivers" (78) of

ch:nu\e and inhabited by blackbirds: as well &s doves. The

po::.t entIrs this atmosphere as the rabbi guided by the

furiouss star" (il1) of love, m-ale consciousness responding

to h'is woman imagination while they live through tho charges

of the seasons under the influences of sun and moon. -'ank:

Doggctt nakes a firm cosef for the resemblance betweenr th e.co

pervAcive women fi-ures and Jung's idea c. tlh o an.i'-L. The

sfi.riT ual level of Harnmoniun (-uid of all Stevens' postr;y)

can be more fully appreciated in view of Jung's foilo,.int

co.-mnents on The anima: "With the arc;het;mpr- of the ana!..a .we

enter the realm of the gods, or rather, the realma that cV.ia-

physic- ha; .aoserv-d for itself. Everything the anima.

touch .s becomes runinous--unc conditional, dangerous, caboo,
qi c', rT: ',

'Tli e irimairav, fijurz'e of 3L.ev:-'..~i' po: t.'ry are th,'m-

:;ev s .RLbijc p.'esence:.. They are the fr.cm.;: ,r.ich stand

SSt.v-r-ns' Foetr.. of Tlhuh'- (B ati .ore: Johns
Ho'i:..n'. "Pre: ss, ", 'o ), c:h. 'i .
S C. 0. ,Jun T'he Arcier.-Ypes 3an.;i t.he: Gllc:ti\ve
Unconscious,;: tran;. J(. F. C. rI uli,-.n -" d.. ,-.._..i..\ ..n
Sor.ies, ".o 20 (Prirnceton: Princ,'3.ch ,'i:_.T vi. rrcL us, 19)S

..:tueen the light: (the capacity ind desire for love) of the

imagination and the cxternal world.. They are the basis ior

presential axperiencc. In "Poem with Rhytl-s" (245-1-6),

The hand between the candle and the wall
Grows laroe on tho wall.

The mind be-;woon this lirht or that and space,
(This mar.2n in a room with ar. image of the world,
That womenir waiting for the mani she loves,)
Grows large against space . .

The m'ythlic forms of Stevens' poetry; like the hand, me:.vurc

the intensity of the light within and i'rm.:e the expc.,iencc

o.f space .without. In this sense, the poet's chilladr-n are

Fal;u his parents; Lhe old man of Stevens' .lIntc poors is also

a ohild. He has created the "pure perf ctic.ns of p'-.'.: !

spnac, / Thle children of a desire that is the ,ill. .

Tht; child is the "r.iind, among the cr'atu.ire that it m.a.kcs, /

The pcsple, hose by ;'liich it lives anid dies" (!36).

This mythic level of Stovens' poetry providSc a-

environnient for experience of the sacred, For ;Ste'vens,

pocr.t'y is an "art of perception" (OP, 19 ). A pcom- car

provide an a tmnospl-.re capable of alt-r-inng rrman's immediate

scne ? of the physical world. As Steven-s says, "An'yoi who

has: red a long roerm day after day, as. for exsrnlo, Tho

Sf 'i.- Qr. f-:.n l.ow: s 11ow the po G .' comas to ;pa3se 3s the

read-r' an-d how it. iaturali-zs huim: in itc ov.n'rt im:;1.~Ti.ion and

l.1ib ':ites himi ther-" (NA. 50). The r:,ture of a pa-.'ticular

poei. c .tiro::p rj large'.ly de terminj, 'd, c.:ol.-.l ra'-

:.,vens, by r.hc ;nta- ors of th" imaginaicic: "Poeitry i s a

:igrisfjyi.;f of the do-ire fo:r' rjsom'o,.anb.. ('', 77), and

"io.-, iblan.co in metaphor is an activity of there imagination"

INA, 73). The metaphor fundamental to Stevons' own )oetry

furces the humr.n and the divine. "The brXllance of .:.arth is

the brillianc.ce of every paradise" (NA, 77). His poetry

cuirlp to create "the way of thinl-ing by whi .h we project the

j iea of God into the idea of man" (NA, 150). The mythic

aspect of1 Stevens' poetry provide an atmosphere wherein the

ilriakinrlt.io;n of Man-God opens to allow earth-heaven to

de.lJ.&are its presence. And it is especially; h di:,ea.sion

whi-.h constitutes the spiritual thrust of the later poetry..

In a letter to Henry Church, who wais soon to -r:become n close

friend, Ste-vens wrote cn June 1. 1939: "!M.y ow;n ':iy ot-

towa'lrd the future involves a confidence ~n -h: pi-.- tuaa

role of the poeb" (L, 340).


The titles of Stevens' final thre3 volum-es of poetry

spend : f'or thcmslives: Transo: rt to Su.:: er (19'.:.7), The

AuL'tor:. of Autumnl ('19 0), a.d Then Rock (in The CollectedC

o.-m.s 195, ). BDasically these volurcs .-cca-.plish juw tt thtt.:

c sJ'piitaci trac.n.por-t into ths auororas tf a f:osh sacrod

whero tht. central n:.,snbhol of the rock :'oprc.srnt3 the incar-

rnat-ion of imagination and oa:.LteJ..u:.3 reality.

Stevoenis .I'.c.nor lposE --wr2:; t-.in roU.Ch.-. dLiring the

s amo -peri.od as his Z ,a s three volm..'; o' ..orvry--.al.so

center on th-e spiritual capaci tics. of, the i.ragination.

/lJ.lthouh Stevens cluim-ied in "The lde:a of Order at Key 'os .':

(19314) that "there never was. a world for her [the imagi--

nat.ionj / Exc-pt the one she sang" (130) and in "The Man

w.itih the :Rlue Guitar" (1937) that "I cannot bring a world

q'iL.t~ rid" (165)r by the time (of his late poetry he

cl. a :. felt more confidence in the e].emawntal world su.s--

t..:j.r, by his o vII .yth.

>...c.u f confidence is reflected in his attitude tow.a.rd

1the ":- -. nation. In "The Noble Rider and the Sound of

Wo d.." (i'912), he declares that "the imagination give' to

ever 1i ;ir.., it touches a peculiarity, and :i t seems to me that

the poculi".::ity of the imagination is nobility h..nh

is ou9 r ':,L'L ritual height and depth" (NA. 33-314). I fect, h,.

,:.-n-o '; bp..'. L .ea or nobility with much the s::noe ur.a of

]myse'i.ry a'nd power that I'ircea Eliade associaLes :.ith th2

p.l:.li u'.v' sr en,e of the sacred and Philip \Whoeeiight
ry'o.te.- tc the idea of presence. Stevn17 writ

''i"ot'si.' could be nore evasive and inancesiblc [than

nobil,.c.- ] Nothing distorts itself and seeks di:guiuse :-ore

oic .K'., T 'ro is a zhaien of disclosing j.i. uani in i.t.

, f.-,.nii :'" pr: .o.ntations a horror of it." (N ) Stev ::

rcs:,;.:a2 -:; Lc .yc nvyztcrioeusc EobiJity of the. inrrp.rnation i.':-2

oVetu". .'. 1 hiZ affirmation that. "God aid t.he im~ inxn i,:u

'' 'Ibe -c4c.urcid andi t!he Priofanc, pp. -1 0; :Me t.-.,-h,~
anld Gl:s1 L.., p. 1 ..I

are o '&" (524; OP, 178).1 But noncthLless, the min,, as God

is. no hi'.n.j-esL. without the conrusnt of earth, (tud the earth

h'arrcin-es: without th-e mind. The r.ct of perce-ption remains

upperrcost: the imagination is the "nocessary angel of

earth . throughh whoso sight] yo. see the earth again"


Integrally involved w.itih bh imagination's sense of

reality is another fuildFamenLal idea of Stcvens' poetry

which is more explicitly developed in hi.' prose. For

Stevens, only the "central poet': is capable of providing

"iniaLnts into reality."119 His "ambition is to press away

flrom my;stici sm toward that ultimate good sense which we t.c:.m

.lvili ati.('" (INiA, 115-16). Stvens' ccnfidGnce in the

c.:;ro.:il poet cxplajn.n why recreation is such a. crucial par.

of .1?.i c :-.'n poetry, for the good sense of' civilizati5-on trces1

basic, .'or Stevens, especially to the seventeenth century, "a

time w;hcn rho incredible suffered most. at the hands of the

cradibl.." (!A, 5). The prirnitive-likc relationship Stcvcns

exprcl '<...;cc.. itlh nature, then, is nor a priirji.tivipstic turn.-

u :,i .-;:.'. .2r.oin th.e d.r-eman-ds of consciousncL ;: it i the result

c' c .': c .t ,:as required of the, centr.Llly c.vil- ized mind. He

:...: : t: :.- as if we said that the end of logic,

C7. B8ird, pp. 2o5-6,A where he di..cu.ses si.d

1 : 5.2,: J. s,. -. I,'- .Siddcl' s mrc.l 'ed:-..ii..?c~ di: .C2J3. io"
of Stoven.' ;idca of centralil paoety." T:- Clair vc'.a:tj. Kv:.
(Baton r- ouge: 1.uiJ.ti-ana S.tate Univ. I'QCe, _T 7p, jp-p.,

;iaFthematics, physics, reason and' iragisrnaio); is all 0one1'

(I7A, "4), This, for Stevens, is "the intelli:enc th:ltl

endures.: And it endures because it is the spi rit o.f rlan

cr.eat.ing "out of its own self, not out of so:io surro1uni'ng

myth": (rIA, ,2-53). Stevens himself created a myth out of

hi .3 own imagination, facing both the demands of civilized

cO.nsc:io:.'3sre. s and the declarationis of the elements, Si g-

nificant; later developments in his poetry clearly illustrate

th..i.s ni..e.rrelationship betwei.n his spiritual belief .'i the

imagi;.:..:.ticmn cnd his sensory experience of reality.

In "'Crcdences cf Sumrmer'' (from TrnJlrsort to Sumrrzr,

'9i7), the sun ("tho centre that I seek') drscencs to the

"ifi'al jo-taifin, the traditional mneoting place of man and.

Gol, -erth cad heaven. The imagination and nxternil. r-epli.--

hbecc-:e uni.cd in r.he "rock [which] cannot be broken" (373,

37.). ,'or Stevens this rock represents both the ultimate

.b L.sr'i"on and the indivisible moment of concrete expcri-

...-, 1T. is the cr ux of his myth, hinged both to the

i.:;:?;i,-'..0--n cand the physical world. It is no surprise,

hcn, .it (-.s lielcn Hennressy Vendler notes) "Crdeince" is

t.L? .'.u'.i. ( .., i pro in whi ch Stevens places '"a l ric. speaJ...:

iivL.t- .-in a landscape of the present r.-onent. . 20

in S'L.' sr'..' last major, longer poem, '"The Iock"

($~ -2&), r;,; barrenness" of t.lo rockl of physics.l being is

coviO'. 1.y t. i "leaves" of1' man's 0o\ con.;c v'I. ne. 's, his

'- On F::t;- a r,dc d Wi.n s (Cr:j..ir.l ., : u '.r.
Ufil V., P.*.'es3srri .'7r p. 3

poem, as if "'nothing'o.nss contained a metier. . But

Sto'vens does not stop here. "It is not enough L-o cover the

rock with leaves. / We must be cured cf it by a cure of the

ground / Or a cure of ourselves. . A spiritual cure

rcnuits when the leaves break into 'bud," into "bloom," and

bear "fruit," and man then oats of "the incipient color-

ings / Of their fresh culls. ." Man's poem, mevrn'

belief, and man become one.

The fiction of the leaves is the icon

Of the poem, the figuration of blessedness,
And the icon is the r.nn. .

The illusionn" (Tmat nothingness itself ".o desired")

bocomrrs the gate into a spiritual.-physical. world beyond the

barr:enrtess of the rock. Stevens' myth has been otLoundcd on

the movements of the physical universe entering a mind

creating "out of its own celf, not out of s;cae surrounding

my'th" (A., 3). Stcvens' leaves are of the sun itself:

S., The per-rled chaplet of spring,
Th. a-'.llQui :';re.ath of summU:Jr, tire's aut'iumn -enood,

Its; copy of the sun, these cover the rock.

Tber: ...ori: ''Th are .nore than leaves that cover the barren

roc:.. .' Tholi ci:'J.;ri.ng cure ouir perceptions of the

l'hy.si.cal world and make possible the ex.perienco through love

of ear h':. p re,.:e -.1nce:

[7,The 3ev. ] huG the whit.?es eyc, the pdllLdest
T.C stons-- "in the engendering" of sense,
The ies .ir.- to bc. nL rhe end of dist.ances,

Ther bod oquicl'ened and the mini in root.
T:oey bloom as a man loves, as ho lives In love.
They bear their fruit so that the year i.:
known . .

`The rock'Is "barroruness becomes a thousands things [immediate

experiences of the sacred] / And so exj.sts no more. ."

Stevens' fresh spirituEl is gro'ru-ided in his mytho-

poeij. ..tyl-e. Ho asserts: "I am my style . [and] as my

poem is.-: ao re my gods and so an, I" (OP, 210-11 ). His

fundxuijental metaphor linking earth and heaven, ian' afid God,

foirs thu grounds for and results from exp!i'.ience of earth-

heav-en created in the mind of mran-Cod. As hi- ,'y. '"A

celestial iiode is paramcunt" (460),

But despite the fresh spiritual, or because of it,

Stevens sees human oxperierce pervaded with mystery. Ij the

,'oinie o01 .eeting between mind and matt.cr is the sacrnmontaal

center of Stevens' spirii;ual, it also represents rhec con-

vse'gence of. inner And outer myster-y. The icoai of man's

poum is the evidence of a "mating and a ir".-iyge" (OP, 212)

be';..:cn ir.u:ginabion and external reality, but theso ecstatic

me-;eti.3:s ar-e fleeting and ambiguous. The iaS.-inat.lon "can

iE v-ev i-ffectivcly buluch the saieo thing twice in the same

i::y." .r.':l.Lj- u r:,.ed reality continues to chan 3--it. is "that

reaiLit;, cr wlhiclh .ve n-.velr los'3 sight but never see solely as

i.t Cs" (CO. 21 5, 2.h). In the lato "The Wlorld as

M-d:i. tatioon (520-21 ), Penelop o awaits Ulysses, and the uun


But was it Ulysses? 0:L was it only the war-.th of

O; her pillowJ? The thought kept beating in her
like her heart.
The tw.,o kept beating together. It was only day.

It was Ulysses and it wao not. ..

De.liring [l:ysses' sacred presence, Penclope experiences the

"'Cav\e presence of the su., The marriage exists only in

thel fleeting iromnent&. when Ulysses and the sui are one in the

pulses of her cwn mind.

Records of such marriages in Stevens' own ex:pr-...n.:

are rfae in his poems, But especially in a few very laire,

short poems there are glimpoes of 9an individualized.

excrn',.l world no longer carrying its abstract, mythic

weight.21 By thi. point, Stev,;'ns and his spiritual parcnour

havc, rIomentarily at least, composed "a dwelling in the

evening air" (524). rTe iliagination and external reality

having been bound together in. a porso-nl myth, Stevens'

irtmTildiat.e experience can then become the direct cause of

hi pooE, ra celebration.

3A1 d. not w:a,.t to imply a cessation of the fluc-
tuaitions b t'c;een mind and --exteirnal reality in Stevens-' late
;or:. That. t}e msTerjsoy of. humei.n perception r3.mains mI5yt.ery
i's csseniial to 1hi:. f::esh srpijritual. ul, t ih.ro is an
incrc.aseLt snsce o' pr..ticu'i uiri'ation ar.(t personal3 ia.madiacyo
..n ma.ny cf he very, late po-ems, in, for example, "The
Her.i-ita;-e at the (;e.nr, "Tie River of Rivers in Con-
;-I:'.cti.c1.:. and "Realitv Is an Activity oe the Most Auguut
Imtri 1 f tio(n. "

Com.parc to the early "Domina tion of Blac!:" tl'-. final

p;:;Q of the Collcctod Poe:nm, "Hlot Ideas about the Thi'i:n but

the Thing Itself" (534):

A.t the earliest ending of wintcir,
In March, a scrawny cry from outside
Sec-.ned like a sound in his mind.

Ho kr:now that he heard it,
A bird's cry, at daylight. or bie.'ore,
In. the early March wrind.

Thc stun was rising at nix,
I o longer a battered panache above sno: .
It would haer been outside.

It was not from the vast ventriloquiam
Of sisep's faded papier-mache . .
The srun was coming from outside.

That scrawny. cry--it was
A chorister whose c preceded th: choir.
It was part of the colos.;l :.1n.

Surrounded b.y its choral rinfs,
Still far away. It was like
.A new 3lCowledgo of reality.

The scr ofxa of the poacocl: in the face of blac]knes ha:;

beconime the cry of ,i. bird no lon 'er terrorized. The turnlm

universe; of the- early poem has ajow been coilpo-sed in cLor~l.

rings. ihe poet hesitates to accept the .-:xpjr'ionce: the

cryo "S.emned like a sound in his mind." lub h: b'j. ieve i'n

t.'.je cry of the bird- like the physical s. i.tsclf, in rea. ly

coPrmin to hi.:r f.~To outside: "He lIow rb-' t he hear-d

i.. ." rni- wind which causes vertigo rvr rC'-: r in b.:-

earl:y p'e ;r.,; .j become a March wind heralding .rprJ.',.

To -ay that Sovens' poeLry is an acr, of the mind i-

..isicE.in :, The lat.c poems, especially, record a livin,,

si-'jc. t.-:. t tcs between the dualisms of abstract .tlcu;?ht,

Xt .s ijcl:'a;:ibl. ej.nd unnecessary to argue a case L'cr

StevenI: e.:p'riencC of the th thing itself" in his last.

oc:ns.' ait mact ters ic that his abstract myth has func-

t.oned as a living dialoctic, sustained by and aimed a,

experience of otherness. By allowing his imagination 's

s.iriri.u.l desire only the satisfaction o'.'" thi e.lemenetal

forcc2s remai.inga after his ownv.. decreations tevens w.a able

to open vthe w.ay for the declaration? of the prosonces of

oarthl Thse3 presence, encouraged by the pCoel s primd tive-

like faicn in the sense side of immediate ex.erienc.e, ca.~e

to constitute a living myth, a growing window opening ou.t-

ward toward v.he thing and inward towa..'d th; source of l.v':.

The spiritual moment of irmmediaU*,, experience in. St.evcns

poet:.-y perfor'.e rsiiains enveloped in prouontial r:y1 rlry.

The body of this study fol'Lows the grow';th of

SOtc-ve6ns' fro'h spirjiua.l, which is, as I will illustrate in

more detail, ;ne dcveloprient of a modern iythi. forum. In

r,.;!.t instances, I tvir to stqy close to the poems tbherselvs,

rui-inr' mostly at a "r,-eading" of Steven-' poetry. Chapter' II

hig.hj'ips....thU spiri tj.al side of ths concerns of Stevens'

,rJ.y ..hood. Gaplter -'. tr ac.s these; concerns into ;Iis

.fiz'-t :-.-ILine of po.,ttry, emphasis: -irg U ihe spiritual. elements

22 nh following discussiscs are o.s;pecially per-
s asive on pj;.is point.: PJddcl, pp. 2'(-76; 'oy Farve-
Pcavro'. ."Waace Stevons: The Lasr. Lesson o..' the M[aster."
in The Act of the t-ini, pp. 121,-27; Richard A. J.i.ckse;--y. The
Cli at. M. of '-al_.ace Sit.vens, in Th .-.ct of thc iind,
p:. 218-2';.

of "Lo Monocle do E:on 'ncle" and "Sunday Morning." lChapt.-r

IV explains the r yrhic Udlmicnsiot, of Stevens' f u'damrental

imagery (as seen in Harmonium). Chapters V and Vi foll.o:J

thi thread of hi:3 si ri tual g-row.tb through his tr;usition

period (requiring close readings of shorter poirni), leading

finally to the formulated assertions of "Ncotes toward a

*Supreme Fiction." The last two chapters offer detailed

readings of Stevens' late longer poems, which can best be

described as mythic achicve~ients. The afterword rec .uds

his relocation in the fresh living space- made possible by

bhi.s miytlh,



The first' clear indications o1.' Stevens' struggle for

spirit'.al meaning and sacred experience are found in his

early letters and Journal entries. Here, during a time

stretching from his college days until the i:riting of hi :;

first major poetry, were recorded the. fur:daoncal conflict..

that r'L--'e from the absence of sustaining belje. iu'-,I

sense C 6. saZ.cr:d ideal wa-3 widelyy scparattcd from his se..---

of the real, mad the real wus usually profanea- Literma-i..'.e

.rt, rusLAic, and nature, as well as the church could all

offer f"oi.a .,f sacred experience "c the yoimg Susves, b-.

they iv.re all too ofter. distant from irrn odiat life wi l.."

scientific truths anCd commercial realities. ., ]c clearly

preocent in thaesi early writings ia the pa-th leading to the

poetry of Hannoniun: a de sire for accuracc- speech ,.;lich

radu.Lly b'.,ican' lii:.-:ield uith the idea of poetry : ad even-

t'illy wi'h the "fluttering things" of the immlnediae world,

St&vonls sporadically entered .,hou Jlts, poetry, aind
quotations in his Journal mainly from 1i898 to 1908.

For a short description of Stevens' activities
duIIring thJis period, s,-e Robart Buttol, Uallaz'3 Stav';ns: 1Th"
M!.inc of iiHarmoni la (PrincoLon: Prini.ceton Uni-v. press ,
uy I's.

The sharp division between Stevens:' sdene- of the

spiritual and his experirece of the mcdern world is already

pronounced in a Journal entry fcr August 1899 (L, 31-33).

heon he was not yet twenty: "The feeling of piety is very

dear to mne. I would sacrifice a great dsal. to be a Saint

Augustine but modernity is sc Chicagoon, so plain, so

unmieditative." He goes on to associate pltty with purity

and beauty, and to express the conflict in tor.is of his

inner and outer worlds:

I thoroughly believe that at this very moment I
get none of my chief pleasures except froj what is
unsullied. The love of beauty exclud's evil. A
moral life is simply a pure conscience: a
physical, mental and ethical source of pleasure.
At the sane time it i3 an inhuman life to lad.
It is a form cf narrowness so far as ccnparnionship
is concerned. O.e must make concess'ioa-s to
others; but thero .'.:3 nver a necessit, of smutch-
Ing inner purity.

He concludes this entry; first, by accounting an forcedd

separation between inner integrity and an active life of the

worl. -d:

The only practical life of :-i world, ?.s a mn cf
the world, not as a University professor a
Retired Parimr or Citizen, a Phi.anthropic a
preacher, a Poet or thne hi, i-; as a b..: liing
mnerchant, a m:nr'y-making l',ucr, so.dir, a
politician is to bj if u.-'4',,jdab1 -. a -ieudo-
villain in the derma, a (ecc.nt person i:. private
life, We :u.t c0 o-n, o we nu:t useo ooth and
nail, iL is che lo; -." n:ure "The survival of
th.: fittest"; provi <:.i.;- ;c r,;in tain a;'. trt; same
t:'i.:o self-rtespect, in'.-:rit.y and fairness,

He resolves the conflict, the'n, through a hardened accept-

-ance of the factual Ltuoether wi it an appeal to a spiritu.?.

fo rce beyond hin:

I believe, -s uLn.h,:esite..tingly a. I believe. anyt}i.n: ,
in t 'h efficacy and necessity of fact nme-ting fac.C--
with a backgl.rounid o.' hnCe idoul. [. .-'

I'm compel;: tel- sat:s.fjied thLa. :o.l.i:UL every
physical fact c.; 5re:. .s : divine force. De:' t,
thr.lreforc, lok Pa. I'.. c t.s, but thr! .Th :l th m.,

One of the directions that Stevens' thoiu),ht wa3 to take as

he, gre, tow-r:.yd his fir:t major: poetl'v was R. gradual obvia-

tio:: of this. trliansc-ndent form of tn.- sa:iritual in i"avor o.f

a :lore cempnlot a.d puzzling irmrair :.e--spirit not behind

but in fr-cts: and finally y only in himiw-elf.

Sc'v..-ns' move from Canlbridfge to New Yoirk City iii

Junc, 1i00, aggravated the division bEcLtw;or'n inner :pir";. ....

m-::ern :.'-r.c). HiC Journal records this r-acticnr t.c :..

:.:'n:;dc Jf ths ci: welcoming in the n.ew ycar, 1 ; ".:. '

:-till ..b--niise within nois=--noice--no sc.--noise--b:" :c:

i3 to be oubsiding. mrrJmedCnt;ly following ::.3 this

ontry: L was: trying to say a prayer but. could not"

'L, 0). S'-':.on responded spi-rituail.y tc the proaone.

ii:', C: '. ::i ty Lr:.".ly in thrr.c ways: hi. t,.- long w.lks in

I.,-" ? .. 7 sir'r)'C j 'i-rs; ne o,-:csaicnar .]l" ;:ont to cburk.h; lhe

; c.., : ;. -.-int to conce:..tI or a.r-t gc.'l ii. es.

G(nt.C.e :,. bus.inr'ss hour-s, St v-;s apparently live'c

. .-:. :. .'-elf, oft nii t ;'.'d:. d'.u ring. th.. ~- r.d taking

3o:: ;, .r.li .t.iry walks on t!ih we.e. ndu. T e i-. ......: of August

79 n '10, *"'02 ( I, ':6.-5 ),, provides :vL-.: oC Suev..~ns'

.h. e..lip's i.- f : r.ac;ke.t.s I used by Haollxy Sc.:'b-"r! n.
to in.dic.r .;aterial acnit"ed froMi the c..l h;Jd lettor:..

: c. :* c. .. -

Oh M!;n D:E'. . : u i';y 'iritt *ir 5: hen :I b-Us
'.::1iK.' re :&'i i :. Z rZcG0 l ir.j-..c of ov :'ything tl.aat
old, to, 'o:r . :y I or .: r. '3 now-.. i -.re o .'
L-''.*.i .nr. tirz.i of t ,cbi:. :o;o, t .r. d of i al.j:in.; F.co'.t.
t'..n; and lcon ;- .ig_ only to hia'.**. .i n -d uii r. '..
or' to be Somen;:r.j,';e irith ther.cr: ru.:-.at3d ;-: ;.'.
terrible impr:'. ro.;.xtnt. Yes.: T ni-;t put a i ace on :. t and .:ay it is .m.'i .ly a ouc.,r(;asic.
rising r ."-on L K. r; ; e,::;: .c se, bu:. f-:'m i' prsI', s 'n .,
poijt- .-: i'.i: 1i. .0j .e: noth;i- g but, :.': :-; of It.ck c0..
z xeX-ci.:. be.'ore ,,L. And then tbi '.r 1'1-ib) e lf-
...c-.. teflQa rion To-.-ro'r.ro: if the .. '. :f' Jh nes .I ,h ).ll
,.i i.:;.y.f ...inx ll day lor.n. I mu'is, f'iiiu a lrc 3i
;hnie co,:t.-'--.- pla3.ce to live in, noe only tc "n. in.

o'ost of 'uSt ,.:cn.l mnure ..potry consists 3of thi3 soJ e "s3'l '-

con t-'.' tion," in!. catina; the extent to which the coI.nt-.-

pla) :'./:'.; i. t r boc.sc hi.> 1eCa ). s cf fiiri.ing "a p].ac t. i '

.nr, not. only to b' i:r,." Thj.s search fr oe. spiritual 1iv

ps.p::' b .-: ;. .-:: C.'.t.. .. .. .f i.: po -- y, par-, .'Llcl .irg

by 'ri:.r ....;. rC c: pr.;r r it.:1. v'. ;"man, 'ricb, E.li c.ad.o abAc*i-uo.

Si:" 'to 15 ._ ,'c : ;'::'. :- nocs r,: ".n t .- .a.r d Cr i c..

ro : n :-- ...: objet. b, 1; .i*;'-n; to

':, ;.,.. as : ." :. as n' o lb.' i .a c.; C;'E- .'.\ ,:' . .

" ,.: 1., :-1;,t ;.-r' ,.i;3 .C,', ,, c.c..i .
.. *.. '. .1.-' -.- ,'l :'; ; : *" t ,"

- .. '" ,2 ."I t .. . .: " c ": .' .-C ':.'.

5 o C :. .- . .* 1.... L2.

I :- : of ii. : :.z' r-o:L! _u:.,

ri d r
* .re if.i. a ~, .

From H. 'it 7 L-;n1.:',i S ,i.es on the &pri., Valley
road, t.h-n .4 ni.l: to RidgeJ-iood, then aothb-.r rm:iT.l
uo iioLcakor rind back: toluniCards tcwn 7 miles more to
Pet ::> .'on: 17: in all, -: pood day's jaunt i.t this
tir..-.. f L::. year. Cc.me from Patt.r.-cn to 1-ohokun.
ly b rol.y a,.d then hc:nm, In the early paru. of
the ( .1 caaj -w s.me ver; xesr--ectab-e couit.vy wnr..h,
as uual, set n'_ conter-iplatinGr. I lcve to -)walk
alc.ng jl tb a slight win-' paying in th e tress ab-jut
me. L-nd think over a thousand and one c::is and ends.

The length of th( walk is typical of %t;ve:?,s' ;ee-kend

jaunts, although, as we shall see, they spr .-ortA.times por--

tr.'aye wit;h greater romrintic fervor. In thick oant-,, nh goes

on to r-.';. ;o the` results oi' the prior evening.'. .*:ie.s;rir and

t.o dro.w a coi'Ltr st between church and. nature:

Lact night I spent an hour in the da:ok transept of
St. :::-i..i-;:k s Cothedral where I go now .and then in
Y.ry mc.s. .oncly noods. !-Rn old argu.r.:ent with : is
that :'..? t~:;.c rcli'-iouc force in ;'.h wo;..d is not
..,, c..,.'-):rn t,t the .";. d it, ef : -. i.y tot-' i ous
.i.,~.; 1 of 1Nat.ure ani our r'E po:.ies. ,Vha-I lIuces-
s,,,) '. '-.T..t 'S '.i ]. t &Lt V(e"r-l.-. or'iZ ', t.i:" e..:s
c.hur.1.' But :;- d.ay in my walt; I thoup,gh. tha.,
aiL'-r .:l thi: i.s: no co:nflict o:.' fo:-'ces bu-,
rather ;. cont.oa.-t.' In the Cazh,:d'al fe lt one
;.rsence; on che hig.J'u..i I I'ele. anoth.r.'r. Two
d .fferent dtei't es pres:-:.-'.d thems.-:.le r; r.d,
trUough i h-"ve only cloic.:.y -,.I'ion:. ,f .'. t'cr, yet
I now f'ol the ais .c l .i b:.L .1': ... :,

.i!, t.h; n poir.ts to tne 'c '-rc;I'C ,. I'ri; .:. con.solation a.'i

.o nature a:i ,. source of his ow'n ::en,-e T' :'piri :

Cl. or'lc at in me wo.-Ln;' ncJ o(!n God at .;ne h'lin;
the poet a:nothbcr C!bc :.t L :;- rT. r'-.,... Tih
'ri t. o rt hlr pc.;.:. }.trcy :L.C1d Lu'.e; rt..' ::.et, ,_:'. "
c'ijid M.ight. In rh- "'*..:-.ow- ,: :.:" "-.... :u'.
Le a.i th.-. r ayaj of r: j :" d '.. .i.*., ir. t}.- '
o ti a tr:-i no Chit;-, :;.. .'.,. .i::.,.,i .. . :.. 1 .' : L -.i. *.y
As I .at drc.-rning w.it?.' i 'C.g; r g'.,.. ... I J fT hIc..
L o glj ti. .ring altar .-.;k. d on ir., *...-.- :-; u-
Jniting .2[! n consoling then; i.?id T : :.''t -r,' .--..
thrioj.glh t.e ('ields ju-.d woods I b,:,',: -.- ; ovr :. .;. .
and blade of grsss reveali.n.g .r '.t.r bx. :cl:.''i g
Lh In"visible,

This te-ndency to see the church as a social institutions arnd

a consolidation persisted throughout Stovens' life. For

ir:tance, contrasting this i.ea of' the church to the problem

of God or spirit, he wrote to .Hi Sirzmons, January 9, 1940:

The strength of the church groUs less and loss
until the church stands for littlEc .or-z han
propriety. . I ought to snj tnna. it is a
ha:blt of mind with me to be thjni.ing of some
substitute for religion. I dcn't neccessariLy
moean some substitute for the church, because no
one believes in i1je church as an instj.iation
more than I do. My trouble, and the trouble of
a great many people. is the loss of b.lirf in
the sort of God in i'hom we wore all brought up
to believe. (L, 348)

The Christian myth remained for Stevens throughout his .ifo

primarily a point of ccnitrast to his ovrn spiritual ucs:i.tion.

Stevens' response at this time to the spirit inr

nature is crucial for our investigation of his fresh spirit-

ual. His major poetry devc'ecpcd cut of h.i3 rejection o'

this early desire to romanticize nature, .Itis maCure aceom-

plishmont resulted from his attempt to discover or creat-e E.

abode of the spirit that was both credible and equivalentc. to

the God of the church of his youth and the God of nas.ure of

:hir early manhood. More and more his focus came to co'.itr

on the i.ystory of hunan perc(:oion and on tbo necesily. of

cleansing man's sight. At uhis stage, during his tw':ntie s,

hi's sen:n of Lthh sacred ..a-'rgely remained associated ruith tIle

s:il'i t r6venl.::d in nature and in Die books. Only gradually

did i!C s concern for accurate speech combine with his idea of

perception to unite at last in a recognition of poetry as a

'.oe.ns of r-:demnption" (lO, 160).

During these pre-marriage days, Stevens repeatedly

responded in his Journal with fervor to the divine spirit

which he felt within and beyond nature. The following

descript ion testified not only Lo the division between

Stevens' sense of thiis mysterious ; spirit and his reaction to

the modern city, but also to the demands of his own irr.agi-

nation, which here enforces itself riumentarily on the

inmcdiate world, the park in the evening:

The park was deserted yet I fclt royal in, my ctrpty
palace. A dozen cr more stars were .3ii.ning.
Leaving thi tower and parapets I uwnderecd about in
a maze of paths somo of which led to tr. invis. .b"l.
cave. By this timo it was dark and i stuilmbled
about over little bridges that: cr:'.ojed ndcr my
step, up hills, and througli t.rsez.. '.i' o5u. hooted.
I stopped and suddenly felt thel .:',;;.:;r.rio- spir it
of rature--a very nyster.iour rsir.t.: I thought
never to Ihavo rr.at oih aFain. I b:..;-;rLd i.n tFhe
air and shook ofl the letha2Gy t.. '-:.d cV;tr:.Llzd
nme. jur so long a tirao, hut m: r'. rc..-owi stop.pca
ihc. t.n- a : th- spiriit slipped a:.Zv :..'.: ..- me
looking ij. h amnuserienrit at the ,-I: -'"'' u7n..ys-
terious and not at all spirit tual "r- ::'. ana apart-
inunt houses that w;ore lined up like -.i,-r;nt
factories orn the West side of the PaT.i-. I crossed
tc EiRhth-ave.., and in a short time rebl.lred to
the house. (L, 50)

This description of the park reads like a madi'ivel roimarce

with ts woods End grottoes. FCr our vi:ow of Stot'h.en, the

passage S3rvc3 especially to underscore the pr:bl!.cr.. of a

modern romanuicizer of nature T.ho must confront a city world

of 'elegant factories."

Ste..'ens' response to nature at this timeo has in It

both a sensB of the beautiful and of the mysterious' and

3suli,-, bul; either way it is usually presented with a back-

grl..und of the, profane and ugly, everyday..world. Note hae

froiL.;;;J.wi response to the sacred arrival of nature's springg

set in sharp contrast to his rovul:ion to the profane city

world of man:

Extraordinarily brilliant day. A day for
violet and vermilion, for yellow and whijte---and
everything of silk. Au contralre, people lcoked
like the- ver devil. Hen whodi ocen taking a drop
of' the Astor HOUSe Monongahela now and then
through the winter, or else had been calling in at
Proctor's for an olive or a fishball before start-
ing up town-, looked like blotchy, bloodless, yes,
end bloated--toads; and many a good, hottest womrian
h.d a snout like a swan. And this on a day when
the rainbo;is danced in ;ho basin in Unicn Squicre!
Spring is something of a Circo, after .ll. It
takos a lot of good blood to show on a day like
this. Everybody's clothes looked intolerably old
and bcEg. arly. The streets were vile with dust.
Persone.lly, I felt quite up to the mark; yesterday,
I walked a score of miles sloughing off a pound at
every mile (it seemed). There were any number of
ble birds q.field--even the horizons, a:'ter a
tim-e, seemed like blue .wings flitting down tne
round cides of the world.

La.tcr in the ssinie entry, after seeing a I!man from a rom.tantic

distance, he can describe him as "a wily zhad--fi'her feedi m;

excels:ior to his goats." At this stage in his development,

the external profane becomes sacred for Steventi largely tu

the extent that. it becomes the "wholly other, a :.'r.!c

beyond th e present ugly realities of tim-e and spaces. He

concluded this entry': "No doubt, if it had b-.c-n a bit

nearer sunset, the particular hills I gazed at so long couldd

have bccn very mu'h like the stops to the Thrrns., And

Bl.akkc' angels would have. been there with their 'Holy. Holy,

lut. thoe difficulty that Stuevns incrasirn!ly recog-

nlzed ;- as that the iinail\n rtion, .Ineuue- trc:: in it t.

never-never-land of a nat.are sE;en only in its beauty and

subli.j.i' ty, w;as always. subject to the eneroach ments of the

pr,'fane immediate world and to the strictures of its o.
d~:ire for a r.ore realistic truth. Note the sudden inter-

ruption of the profan,. in the following description:

Arollo & I tripped it through rainy woods
e s t;ray afternoonu. . Spirit seemed cvery-
Jwho r,-.-. :-talking in the infernal forest-. The wet
sid'eo of leave\ glittered like platoc of steel;
Diig rLt-birds made thin noises; tree-frogs seemed
con::piv ring; an owl chilled the clar:rajy silence.
But poohl i discovered oSg-.-hel.ls--surc sign of
a an &: his wife & a child or two, lo.afing jr my
terilr-.e. How fine, though, was the iiyste.r:y of
overy;-shing except the damn egg-chells! (L, 61-62'

Longing for sacred groves, Stevens can unly more .mnd

me.f.e feel the inadequacy of his poetic response to the

spirit of nature in the face of the demanding rea:litie: of

the .;lnsediate world: "I wish- that. gr-ovos st..l were

s.acred--or, at least, that something was: that; there was

still zormething free from doubt, that day n to dsay ,still

uttered .speech, and night unto night still shoved wisdo.v. I

grow i>.fd of the wanT of faith.--the instinct, o' faith."

And t'-en: the casual but anticipatory dcsir'--.'"It wuiu.ud be

mu;h nicer to have things definite--both uwra.n ...:1: divine
f- cC e.p,
., uu-87).

Over three years later, in a letter to his :wife-to-

beo Elics Mecll, Stevens confronted more fully this problecr

of the huIl~an and Lhl divine:

I dropped into St. John's ch:.pol .an hour before
the sor-.-coe and sat in the las t ew andi looked
aroiud, It ha:ipens that la:ti niJ.gt ar; the
Library I read a -. fu of Jesus cu I was

in'o.'re:;te, tc see what symbols or tlha't :.ifo
appeared .in the chapel. I thin]h thero -ere none
ar, all excoptinc- the go]ld crcss ou ttir. alt'r.
'.ioen you compare that poverty with the iosalth of
symboJl., of remscrFbrances, that. w;.- o created and
revered in times past, you e.pproniato hoe chRngeu
that has come over the church. The church should.
be more ;ban a moral institution, if ic is to
have the influence that it should have. The
ipi.co, the gloom, the quiet mystify and entrance
the spirit. But that is not enough. --And one
turns from this chapel to thoso built by me.n w.ho
felt the wonder of the life and doat. of Jaeus--
tenmplen full of sacred iimagos, Lull of the air o'
love cand .oliness-.-trbernacles hallowed by worsah.ip
that sprang from the noble depths of men fami-liar
with -ethseriane, familiar with Jerusale.m.

Apparently. struck mostly by the actual life of Chri st,

:Steven:, comments: "1 do wonder that the hl-urch is so

largely a relic, T.t vitality depended on its association

with Palestine, so to speak." Already here in embryo

:;ueverLs was expressir:n primary ele.mcntz of his lat:r spir.i-

ual, in which eventually the he .oa-n God of im'.gination w.'s to

stand before the ultimate mystery of life itself. He goes

on :

Reading tne life of J.esus, toou makes one distin-
guisli tli,- separate idea of God. Before co-d.:y I
do not .hink I have ever realized tha; God was
distinct from Jesus. It enlarges the matter
alL-.ost beyond. com!.prchensionn. People doubt cL:-.
existen}cc o' J6sus--at least, they dUubt f.nc..ic.
of ii.-.s l.if, such as, say; the AcIcensircn in-.o
Heave-n after lhi3 death. .tut I do not understand
thalt th-y deny God. I thi'k evleror.l acL'.,:isg that
:n none form' or other. --The r.hou-lnt make.. the
world sw'eeu-,r--even if God be no more T''.han. the
ay:c;ic'ry of Life.

Later in t-he6 :aone let.er., Stevens Ydded to the wonder of

hun .ife and the uLtimatn iny--r the third: .eimber of lii'

trini 'y: fel the overwhelraing noces.sity of

Lhi:1kinir. well, speaking well" I(., 39-i ). Only a; his

desire for poetry becne purely the desire for t,.ccurate

speech, not infused with the longing for a romantic world

dissociated from the immediate one, could Stevens' aest.hetic

become his spirit-ual. Over thirty-five years later this

emDryc.nic awareness of human. wonder .nd ultimate l, y-tecr wed

to accurate speech will bear fru-it in Stevens' monumental

poetic realization of the rock of being:

It is the roc, of sJrummer, the extreme,
A iiiountain luiminous half uay in bloom
ArnO then half waa in tie extremest light
Of sapphires flashing from the central sk ,
As if twelve poinces sat before a king. (375)

Sbevens' desire for accurate speech increases s:; his

attenticn turned front the search for spirit within ant..r- to

the aense of spirit within self. But although this

de.3.piri tuali::.ing of nFturc could enable himl ;o sca the cartb

.lc:;: romantically, it could also leave him i;ithout :~ l sen.s

of spirit at all. Stevens' letters and Jouriial entries from1

his pre-marriag.e days record pL.in and confusion as vwll as

positive growth.

One of his main dilc-Jlras corrinumIed to be his sense

of the ~w.lf between art. and iimre.date life. On July ...

1900. h1e wro'Ue in his. Journal: "Perish all sonnets, .

Sonnets ha-ve their place . but they can al.:,o be found

tr.emc:nddously out of place: in real life ;hoire th]igs are

quicl:, uLiaccountahle, responsive" (L., 42). In its most

txtremio form; ;vtih tension be twoen life and art was for him

the co.nflicr. Vbetwoen scj.,nuncji"1.r Te.cductic.n Lad romantic


osu-capo, On Septenber 4, 1902, Stevenrs entered in hia


Tc-dnay while thinking over organic laws etc. tbc
idea of the German "Org bni.,sus': crept. into my
thoughts. -and as I was i un.h.ngs on -'r&rikfurLters
& sauerkraut, I 'felt quit'- the philo.soophr.
Wonderfully scientific & cie.r iceC.:--this
orzanism.us one.. Yes: and if i ;wt.'o a material-
Ist I might value it. But only last night I wa-
lanmenting that the fairie-s were things of the
past. Ths organimus is tiruck-.--.give me. the
fairies, the Cloud-OGtherer, the Prince 3f Peece.
the mirror of Virtuoe--and a pleasant road to
think: of them on, and a starry night to be with
then. (L, 60)

The result of conflicts such as these, centering in the

unreality of art and the mroanirngLesrness of co;ii:oonplfce

reality, is at times ciisillusionment arnd despaP',r, Stven'

Journal entry for April 30, 1905, records a scwse of s.i.it-

ual vacuum:

I fool. a loathing (l.arg,,a, & vaguely for things a-,
they are; anid T.hic is the result of a prttly
thorour-h di.iillusiornaent. Y c this is an ordinary
ruood uith me in to',rn in the Snrin, tiimrs. I. say to
myself that thero .1v nothing good in the world
except physical :ell-beingr; nll. tUei rest is
philosophical compromise. Last Sunda3., at home, I
took co..T-nion. It was fru-m the l:r,'n the s:eni-
mental., the diseased, the priggish 9nd the ignorant.
that "Gloria ir; excelsisl-' ceae. Love is console.-
tion, ..iture is consolation, Friondt.hip, Work,
Phantasy are all consoL.ation. (L, 82;

Even after acknLowlcdginr, the element of self-consciou-;

cynicis.F, in thi.- pau.sag e, oQle sensf:s :.';-:ethiLn:g !f the co-n-

trolled do.-pr:'.r ihici ;sho11 Ced up later i ;i suci pCoe*ts :-.

"Domiti;nFation of Black" aund "T]he :i-uSnow Malii."

T'he ,wa.y out ot' tho despair: be;an even in these early

recrcds to f'il."- t.he- pth than. ::ould rcHain .h:', baiicc one

ua.o f or the feature Stevens. Lnxadiately following the

previoi., entry, Stevens wrote: "If I were to h nve ry will I

should live wI;h many spirits. . I shul. live with Mary

.S;uart. Marie Antoinette, George Sand, Carlyle, sapphc.,

Lincolr.., Flato, Haw-thorne, Goet.tc and the lihc" (L, 82).

(no path out of despair involved for Stevens a sensitivity

to the "spirits" of the past. But the note of rmormantic

escape into the past had to be qualified by a fresh Uense of

the present before it. could offer- a valid route out of the

apiritul.i. a vacuum. Stevens' feeling for the inafnedi.-to forces

of nature, plus his sense of his oiwn spirit (pF.rtly an

A.iherlit, ce from those sp- '-rs of the past), led in the

sa ilo direction that his desire for a curace .bpec-h and for a

se;ns? of divinity were also leading him--all strands

together, fornuing a spiritual road inuo the future.

The following Journal entry offers the or.ot iop.';.'*..

tant early evidence of Stevens' awareness .,f the sheer 'fosce

of sizc and power of the natural elements. DBoy:nd the rne&3.

for roi;anticizing, such forces were due to play inmporta.t

parts in Stevens' future role of poet of earth.

I tho.-u'au, on the t-rain, how utterly we? h-rc for-
saken the Earz.h, in the sense of exclud.ijz. ; *Lt from
our thougbht-.. There are but few 'ho corC;.i.:r .its
physicnar hugeress. its rough enonrity. It is
s3til.l. a disps.i.lace mnonst--rs 'i ty, full of so.'..tud(es a
I'-arrens & uildsc It still dwarfs :: Lerr'ifies &
crI'si"e$ '. heo rivers still roar, the .c:oi'.on i;in
still crash, thi, winds still. shatter. Man i: an
affair of cities. His gardens &. orchards fc f:, ld?
are mlora scrtaC'pirigs. in;.So '.-eh!.. however. .' has
mranntcd to shut out tht: fao, of tie i.ant fror. h.is
-:irido::s. .ubc the giLant is there, noverthcl.css.
und it .i c. prop-er yu.esJ r.ion, wnot} r. or not the


I,;.llipu.:t.ins hav 1 t: 'i.- don. *h-.ro are. his
huge: legs, Afri- & L. : ...mrica, stiJ.!., appar-
ently,. free: and the Jr.t cf h!ir. is o1re,':ty touJl-
and runhandy. Bu.i:, as I say, we d'J :lot t hink of
this. 'Tii'e was a girl on th. train ,sith a face
like the uutncr-side of a moonfisn. Her talk '.'as
of dances & .etin. For her, Sah:ara had no iand;
Brazil, no nud. (I, 73)

Such 1a idea of earth, socn without romantic trappings,

n.aeeed to provide Stevens with a fre.h context within which

)-he could more fully conceive of his o: -r creative spirit. Ir.

a letter advising his future wife r.c joiu. the church, he

went on to observe: "I am not in the least religious. The

sun clears my spirit, if I may say that, a-nd an occasional

sislt of the sea, and thinking of bluo valleys, and the od;r

cof the earth, and many things. Such things maIkc a God o'f a

mn.n; but. a chapel rmakes a man of him. Churchsc are human"

(L, 96). A scnse of the elemental force. of natLure combined

with an awareness of his own, God-like creative capacity

invigorated Stovens' c.oncon with his i.nter!*- .lifo a.s a

perceiving and ox,~rczsing spiritt From here o,., Steven,'

view of thii i:miicnsi ty and rmy.stery of the airth and his vi ew

of the spi-iriual efficacy of the mind of man grew tc.-cteor

side by side.

.'it this same tirm appr:oaiching e.e thj.iy stij.

proesauab.y prior to thu writ.;-:; of his first major poetry,

,'St;c;.ni s boc, r. to t.ry to express to Elie a fe.sh ccO-ceptic.

of the ]j. uon l mind along wi tTh a new l).ief in mian's nobility.

Tt io music tb.szc niwa.kens him to the arch-typal depth of

)rental" re s.ponss s:

What is tbhe mysterious effect of rausic, the vague
eff-'ict we feel. when we hoar music, without ever
defining it? . It is considered that music,
stir-.ing something within us, stirs the !Memory. I
do noT ,'ean r our personal Memory--the memory of our
twenty years and more--but our inherited Memory,
the .Mem ory we have derived from those who lived
before us in our owTn race, and in other races,
illimitable, in which we resume the whole past
life of *che world, all the emotions, passions,
experience:~ of the millions and millions of men
and women now dead, whose lives have inse nsibli
passed into our own, and compose Them. --It is a
MHemory deep in the mind, without images, so vague
tha' only tico vegueness of Music, touching it
subtly: vaguely awakens, until

'it remembers its august abodes,
sn-d murnurs as the ocean murmurs there.'

This pssociratjon of the racial unconscious wi.rh r-sic, hos..:.

to e-c.lin the provalence of musical. effects iij Steve:.s'

poct:,'y. Elizabeth Drew relates T. S. Eliot's concern with

tbc "auditory imagination" to the !"mythical method of gra.p-

ing experience."5 For Stevens, music can c0.ll fox-th the

archaic self within, which is a primary task for all myths.

Ln chis: letter, he wcnt on to mainntain:

"great music" agitates "to fathomless depths, the
mystery of the past within us." . An.d again,
that at thi. sound of Music, each of us feels thar.
"!the--ec answer~ within him, out of the Sea of Death
anld .rth, so:me dying inTmeasurable of ancient
pica.-,re and pain." --While I had always I o.n of

T. S. Eliot: The Design of :-is ,'cet..gy ,'i.!- w Y .rk:
Scribn, r-, 1 9 .), 0. ComriexL.in on paragralp fro:.i
E ,liot'.; `.Tsy, "The Musi; of Poetry.." sho wits: ''he
ireyw cr, i-: tnat. pa.-ag.e, is that the a.'dit.ory imaginaSion
Ifuss; n..: as we havo seen, it is the e:xericnce of' di.visi.on
!andi .r' 1tiplicity reduced to unity, which i. the essence of
tb-o s:r.'bic' or mythi 1 ical m.eth.c d of grasping exporeijnce."
(8.; SvcI.s coIr.ments on the sounds: of the :!sttor C in "The
C: edi.:- an" (L, 29 ,)

thi.- infii:ite extension: of personality, nothing
has over rlrad.- it so striking as thii application
of ]Mu:.;ic to it. . (L, 136)

kWereas Stevens h-d been concerned previously uith the

rcmanr tic notion of the "divinl force" and "responsive"

spirit in the physical world, ie no; begac. to dwell more

often on the "innuilerable responsive spirits within" (L, 32,

h4. 136).

In "'Pter C.uince at the Clavier" (89-?2), t .. same

attit,(d3s help to formn one of the earliest spiritual. thru :ts

of Stoveni:ji poetry. In that poem, he comes to s-e thiat the

capacity of the nind to respond to tle music 'of phy.-ic'l

bei-ng, :'r,.hout. t-rying t..: turn it into the ransirtic "wholly

othc;-," offer-s i minde of spiritual validation both o tirm-

iin.cd and to physical beauty.

Just as my fingers on ths'ye :eys
Make nunic. so the selfsame sounds
On mry spirit make a music, too.

Music 4.s feeling, then, n.t sound. .

Fi:'est, the imriportance of the nin-d's re,;po.'nse is affir.nd.

Then, enduring physical. beauty is seen to ba the prroer

source of Yian's celebration:

Beauty is momentary in the mind--
The fitful tracing of a portal;
But in the flesh it is i.rnortal . .
[Susanna's music] plays
On the c).a:r viol of her memory,
And makes a constant sacramient of praise.

The aind becomes the musical instrumront on which the music

of Sum1,r, s physical beauty is sacralized,

Leos: thanr a week after the previous l. better, Steverns

w',te agali;, recordnG o.a new belief in man's nobility, omn

that enabled him to begin a resolution of the problem posed

by scientific reduction.

. I have latl had a sudden conception o:- th
true nobility of men and :;.uren. It is woll ornough
to say that. they walk like chickens, or look like-
moinkeys; except when t.hey are fat and look like
hippopoar.aues. But Tthe zoolog ic-al point of view
is not a happy one; and merely .t'rcm the desire to
think .'e1ll ci' meni and women I h;.ve sudae-ily -seen
the very elementary trutlh (which I had revere. seen
before) that their nobility does not lie in ,uhat
tney look like but in wha1t. they endure and in the
manner in which they endure it.

Stevens, significantly, goes on to relate hisf now sense of

nobility to the problem cf a world of' cppcrrancco and a life

lived in the mind, a tack anticipating the extent to which

his fully developed idea of nooiLity woI.ld be ansociitad

with the imagination's capacity to provide insight- into

reality. Here, though, he simply observes:

Everybo-dy e--cent a Jhijld appreciate.m that "things
are not :whiat they seem"; and the result of dis-
illusion eight be fatal to content, if it were
not. for courage, jtood-will, and the like. lTheI
mind is uhe Arena of Life. Men and wonon must be
judged, to be judged truly, by the valor of their
spirits, by their conquest of the natural be.ng,
and by their victories in pn.ilcophby.--1 feul as
ii I had nade a long step in addvnce.

Significant, too, is the facr that i'n ihi letter,

containing Lh earliest oxpoi.tion of his idea of nobility,

Ste.'n-; fir.sr. a'rowed the centrAlity cr. the mlind -*-"Tho mind

i.s il. Arena of Lifo"---and then turned to the external world

.'ith a r-.:ne:'.; capacity for experience:

It is a di cvoe'y, too, that very greatly increases
my interest in non and women. One might say that
their appe::trancoe are like curtains, fair and
unfair; the stage is behind--the comedy, and
tragedy. The curtain had never before been so
vividly lifted, at least for me; and my rambles
through the streets h.?ve been excursions full of
amn teur :;ot thrilling penr,.tration, i respect the
cn;ickens; i revel in the monlrk:ys; I feel most
ol.itely toward the hippopot.a.uses, poor souls.
(L, 1,43-14.)

Throughout hi3 matue poetry, Stevens' meditation centers on

the r:apac.tic-s of the mind in relation o ;he curtains of

the experienced world, which come to be seen as the neces-

sarv v.ils of the mind's own fictions. Furthermore, the

mind as source of nobility will be more and more affirrnlm as

the aonly avenue into a physical world. Stcv-ens' yearning

fo:- :sacred groves begra at this point to lead to thu eniwg.a

of thec curtains themselves, and his o..-n lifelong explci:oation

of the find's necessary fiction would eventually co;ipose- a

major fiction of its own. Stevons would coie to see that

t"I-o curtain could not be lifted, since it is not in the

exterinal world but is itself man's way of sight.

Stevens' mature poetry follows the lines established

in tho-rDn last foi; quoted letter.m. Eventually. he would di.;-

cove. 'i.h.-:t the mind, by enabling itself c-o convercs wi. 1I i s

own d-eti:t, could, like: music, rememiberl "its august- abodos'"

and f.nd t hat \"hac spc. ;l in the mind's dephb arTe the

"oco.in :r..raiul. Stevens, in creating through accurate

sp'.ch 9 dia.logue w.ai. h the L-pirit within, finally caiu. to

b3.iev-. that the veil he had created was a "copy of the sun"


There are only a few; explicit indications in these

pre--miarriage records of the unique mode of Stevens' future

poetry, poetry which so often grows out of a dialogue

between Stevens' male consciousness and his interior queen

ando paramour, his ime.ginatiun. Although we have noted ea'r-.y

'3xa'riples of' his fluctuation between the dimensions of the

nir.d and the external world, the Journal entries and his

early letters to Elsie also point to the special meditative

technique that becomes his means of reshnpinr his response

to the physice.l world. In reaching the Staf-3 of his first

important poetry, two eoomenits of hiL: t:ho-ught began to

alter: he ceased to think of hi3s re-;ding as r-oman.:.ic

escape fro n. dreariness and started to seu it more as related.

to hii immediate experience: and he bga-.nr to r.hink of his

interior depth more personally as another' self; associated

both w-ith his imago of Elsie and his sense of his own Ariel

spirit. t.,

A onz, the excerpts of Stevens' letters to Elsie for

the year,3 1905-06 is this one orncerrning the interior

spirit: "Life seems glorio;?-u; .'. a while, then it seems

poiscnou.i. Bur, you must cvuc' "lose faith in i ., it, is

[,l...o-~'us after .,1. Only you must find the glory for your-

eif', Lo .not look for it either, except in yourself; i .

t-.i e. cret rp;.:tces of you~" pf.rit; and in all your hidden

:.(L'." L, ). Av. akning th.so "hidden ser.nse" gradually


became a primary j.co;ncnen !'or Stevens, creating the grounds

for a true dialectic between r.imagination and external

roallity. Central to the dialectic was Stevens' growing

a.war'e:ness of the importance of accurate speech and of the

world of his readings (early instances of his idea of: a

civilized rmin-stream). Stevens' letter to Elsie on january

17, 1909. illlustratas his constant shifting bctwesn .interior

anr ext:ernal reality, along with his senos of the centrality

of reading and cl3ar expression. Ho beg&n by describing two

recent, exhilarating experiences in the park, leading to the

fol lo,;in g:

The s.now w.as just cormoncing to far.11 blowing frorn
tho I'orth, the direction in uwich I -wan go:.ng, Eo
that my checks were, shortly, coacod with ice--or
so tlhey cJo].'. --It would be very apre..'able co me
to .pend a non:-h in the woods getting myself
trim. There is as much delight in the body
as in anythinS in the world and it leaps 'nr use,

Then he turns abruptly to the .subject of his recent reading:

It waR balm to mie to read and to read quickly. 1
havo such difricul.ty with Maoterlinck. He dic-
trac.st by his rhetoric. Indeed, philosophy, wh'icr.
ought to be pure intellect, has seldom, if over.,
been so aniong moderns. We color our language, .and
Truth being white, becomes blotched in trans-
mi s ;L .Ln,

F'rom tils e:Sxpression of the importance of pure speech. ho

goes on to discuss Poe, thq mind, and stagnaitiug routine:

i!owaday3. r,.hen so many people no lon.:er believe ir..
; :,-..'- .a t'.:!.3. thin s, th:y find a sub I i]tute in t!h
st. e..r.er and more freakish -phenomena of the mind--
)'.-:1..ucinatl.ons, mysteries and th; l.ike. Hence thb.
r..-:ival of Foc . Poo illustrates, too, the
eff'cct of stimulus,. ,-oen i complain of the "bare-
n,-:.s"--I have in mind, very often, the effect of
orlce' and regularity, r.he effect of moving in a
,rocve. We all cry for life. It is not to to

f.'.;und in j.hai lroading to an: offi ce and. th'L n .'ai.l-
:.oad.l:ig back . But t i.s cbvi.tous.ly more
ez--.i '"IG to be Poe than to be a lesser ;'!es-.ire.
Y'ou see the effect of the railrosadini~ in my
letters: the reflection of so many .Ills the
c'ffct of moving in a groove,

'ITh subjoe:t of unhealthy regularity le--ad.s directly to tne

importance of' book:j and of his o-wn in teriuor spirit--both of

which are seen to revitalize experience:

But books marr-e up. They shatter the gr'oove. as
far as the mind is conce-ned. They are .like s-
many fantastic lights filling plain dn-kne.sr s .-withi
s tran. e color. . I like to w.ite m3-L irhen
the young Ariel sits, as you nmowi how, at. the head
of my pen and whispers to me--many things; for i
like his fancies, and his occasional music.

Immediately following this reference to his Ariel ;piri;:-

Stcven:: broaches a central problem o. his major poetry:

"One's l-st concern on a Ja.usL.ry niJ. :.b i: the real world,

onen that happens to oe a limited one--unless, of course, it

is a;s beautiful and as brilliant as the Park was this. after-

noon" (L, 122-23). In the future. his poetry w;as to be nis

w'.y of relating the real world to his book world and his

Ariol spirit, so that the real world would no longer be .a

liiaiteo one but lit by the ligh& of minagination:

"Ar''ranging, deepening, enchanting night" ( 30),

A few months later, Steven,- followed the same

pattcrno in another lIetuer to Elsie. Aftor dt~scriirinG vivid

exper'ienes of the exter.al world--an: art shoi., a ch;u.zrch,

c.ocids--he concluded: "I wish I could -pend the wl;o.e

season out of doors, walking by day, reading and studying in

the evc:nings. I fee). a tremendous c zpacity for snjoy.i ng

th-It .kind of life . ." rThen juo.it a he bogina to corn-

piijr. i.-, ',: ..'-in "compoll.d i-rtc the oomioni lot," he

So many lives have been lived--tha world is no
.on.ger dui.1--nor would not be .ven if nothing new
at a.lle over happened, It would be enoi'lih to
exgjrfinie the record alr:edy made, by so rany
races0 .in such varied spaces. --Forhaps, it is
best, too, that one should have only gliirmpses ;of
reality--and get the rset from che fairy-tal6s,
from picture;, and music, and books. --;:.y chief
objection to tow-n-life is the ccrrTmornness of the
life. Suc;h numbers of lon degrade M1am. The
teeming streets malre IMan a nuisance--a vulgarity,
and it is impossible to see hi. dignity. I
feel, nevc-rtheless, the overwhelming necessity
of thinking well, speaking well.

More nnd more, man's artistic creation cime to be .-:cn by

Stevens as the link botueen the mental world and the

cxterc:.l one, and nmn's art became associated with "think-

in., wc.Ll, speaking well' (L, 141 )

L-svc..v-, envisioning of an interior paramour to

;er-.pond to his Ariel spirii- w-as the final ) tep leading to

his fir :-S important potz, Stevens: need to e:;per.iencve a

sacred externl:-. world as.3 just one side of his primary

problem. The other side was his need for co.nmrun ion with his

o-.-i in:erior depthl. bei- gradual incarnation oi' hirs ;ijo:i9l

spiJ' ;t enabled lim to eat-:';ljsl a dialogue betw'ee, in.nt.rior

self and ph. .-.i cal worL.d, No traditional. icuse nard no

Beltrl c**.. sh:e ncn, :etlo,.P;:s b-.:cane the objeciaticatin or

S e'..0:1' own aspiring -love, 'a kind of sister of th, e .inro-

tr" (1, 2). It is she w-homn Stevens would attciiot to out

intc spiritual relationallir. irith earth, so that e9:perincc

of earth at last would require neither resignation to a luiW;

o- mn.atter nor romantic escape from the mud of Br.'--V.i.,

On th. no.st inLnediato level, Stevens' wo.r;an figure

.'s simply exalted good company on his solitary quest..

.Stvevne' first portrait of hi.s spiritual love is both

rom-r.ti c I!nd touching. From his journal, April 2', 1906:

C(leaS sy. The twilight subtly redisoval--p;e-
Cop-nican. A few nights ago I saw tl.-. ?'ir of
th1 .moon, and the whole blact: moon behind, jusr.
viasiblee, The larger stars oere lJike flares, One
jculd have -.ikecd to wrilk about irith some u,,eec
di:-s',ossjng ':;nYv and caverns, like a noble warrior
spoei;ing of trifles to a noble lady. Thu imaRi-
nat.o.en. is quite satisfied with definite objects,
if' th,:y be lofty and beautiful enough. Xt i.
chiefly n dingy attics that onn d'rearis of violet
citiev.:--and so on. So if T had had itn.at noble
ledy, I should have been content.. 'The abssnc, of
he.r "rado the stealthy chc.dc;::z dingy, atticy--
i ncomp or.c. (L, 91 )

S!;evren' wov.:an figure was to remain throuoghout much of his

poetry assc.iaced with the night, the moon, and stars

(Es .ec;ally Venus).

His lette.er to Elsie indicate that she herself was

the next ilinage associated by him with his imagination. On

January 12, 1909, he opened hi: letter to her:

To-night yo.u rulls1 come to no serious purpose--
coi,, a;s Lc-Pcup.--(I do not say it; boldly. )
--limangino my page to be as uiite as the wh,;te
shoet they use ';cr magic-lantern :Thow:--and sud-
-A.v;.y cee your chringeful self appear thorn in
those rjbb-.ns and flowers of tho darGsel that lodt
h.r c.hecr,. I point and say (not at all faml-
irl :y- )-.-''ia chore Bo l" And you vani sh. --B ut
it really isn't so frightful whsn say i.t again.
'.n;. perhaps you would not always vanish. (L, 118)

The ,anner ir. w.Jhich ho sun-c,ons her presence before him, even

bhere in a comic vein, anticipates the way in which the I:c-ma-.i

figur-e is addressed in many of his poems, 'n fact, a : ,.. :'

',f Stevens' first (post-Harvard) published poems were

written for r.l~ic.' But, as we will sue, already in

Hai.ronium. the woman presence in a pervasive one and \uas not

to b- confined in. a single fi.ur.e.

SStvens; ,:;ot'e two groups of ;oecm. for E1sic, each
of which ho c.ollec ted in the years 1908 and 1,909 uridar the-
title "June Book,"' SiVx of these poer.s apup!)Ueed in Trend in
19'-14. Ser- buttel, pp. 4!8-49, L9n.



The poetry of Hamn';oniu dcveJ- .lp'd out of the need to

liv', spilr1 i.ally in a physical world.. Stevens bears w-,.i Liess

to t!e f::,A .Le of t;h.3 romant Kc imiagina tcion that would 'nify.

.li'jT exr.:riience through a belief iri t-ranncendonc, spir.,t or

th?;:i-ughl a .u nse cf pnirit outside the mind within naTure.

That. which ~r.*mainr fiftler this loss of faith in either form

of -r'l.ritual lif is the double senne that imagination

creates '.;c- world tLhat it lives in and tiiha the .flut.,.eoing,

itin,:-: *.' n t.l3:; declare thl ir o-..-n prcr;icn c--a. condition

which re-sults in a;i unstable fluctuation betw'..:! a bodilces

but ;i.ri.tually eff.icciou conslci.uness o..n.i :. prof.ne Iut

plyd' ;. :tmal universe. The poems 3o I.rIoniun asro

lario.y gien ovcr, first, to decratiing romanhticisms t.h:t

:nul'0 :".-e"col"i o thle :iv::r.- drualij y on bsses no lonD .cr s:cc:lpt-

ablo to Stuev.3: s, ;and, then, to exploriing 'the tw-I fronii-:;.n

thi domaiins c.f t!"he i-n:iginati on and physical r.:'r.iLy.

Stcv.-e;:' .0 exapJ oration ia haRr.,:noiLju-n l r'I r. ;r e ';hou hi.

ypoe; ;(..: placc on .3ubst9ntially tuo level;.: tA..i of

an.lyti c di>.-co'urs, r-esu' ting in the meditativee ca-st of his

ot.ry, an:. that of mythic figuration, imageryy which both

ustatins the discourse and serves as the cutting suge cf t)i;

exploration, This second levoj makes up the presonrtial

dim:n,-si-n of Steven.' poetry because it exi.3ts at the con-

lre of hi% experience of a physica?. Jorld and of his own

rrLa'i"ioi, venr i. Hiar.-,oniurm thcse interior oprsences

begin to compose a mythic structure facing to-.,ard external

presence, %.hbile at the sa:ie time the philosophic rneditatio.1;

r3.uctut. Lo in its c:.1phasis between the rfaiiis of imagination

and ph.ysicr.': reality.

Following his marriage in 1909, Stevens' Journal

entries largely ceas,. and even his l- tters to his wife in

thr. en;l''.ru,' period Zhow a lccc pronounc,:d concern with bhe

e..c.mont:; of his fr-esh .piritAl, It is mainly to the poetry

s,..at .:e must tu tu o pick up the thr:o.d of t.hl quust. I

191'4, Sc.vens began publishing his poetry for the first time

since his u-iderg 'aduate days, and in Sepr'emh bu, 1923, p.b-

l-1shou his 1'irsm collection in Ha'lmonlir.:.

The two mro.t important poems in Harmoni i.Lf for

reflect .ing teens' 'pri tuail cvoluTion are "Lo -or.ocle de

', Oncle" ani "3Sinday Mo rinI.~" Hlot only :;'Le the poems

:I.-.iil.ar :.n style and content, they also :. rac,: parallel

spiriitu al sto.s Anid poin,)' in thle same di recti n toward

StTver' future dcvelc;lopien t.. -Although ".Sauiriday Morning"

1 The stcidr d discussion o 'tc-ven.r' i;..di tativ e
,ty.'l .: L.:.,, c L. liart;. Trc Po ie of .i: in'i (il. York:
Oxf .'vd .IL'".v. ."'r. 969) C, chs. I :.n(L "C '.

.fir:t. appeared in porint tbreo years prior to "Le Monocle," I

-:wish to tani to the latter poem first largely because it

ties in closely with the last picture of Stevens we saw ai

the early letters.


"Le lH3nocle de or. Oncle" (13-18) confronts the

problem of the survival of imagination and love in a world

of chng. anrd decay. It is Stevens' address as a man of

f'or. and "past meridian" to his imagination, w-hose desire

f'or. t.ranscoenent love appears to conflict with the poet's

na!;tual world. "The poeim concerns a fall, both from a senseo

of ... m .. u...ty with nature sustained by p sexuall.

orinr.ted ima ..ination. san from romantic ideas of heavenly or

ea--,l.- y Urarjccondence, the "starry conn.i ssance" or the

'co.'.ff..'es of Bath."

The oi-ening. section recounts firsu the poet's mock-

ing of hi. inc-.gination's pretensions to sovereignty, having

a6dr-essd hex':

"i.iother o.? heaven, r;ini;a. of the clouds,
C sceptre- of the sun, crown of the moon,
There is not nothing, no, no, never nothing,
Lj..]e tnc clas.hed: edOgeu of tw:o iords that kiJl."

2 Stvens-, of course, 07.'ronied "Le M:,nocle" ahead of
"S';udaY -'orning," in both K;arnmojniu' and. t.h Collect.ed Pojmsg
Ailso, there i- reason to believe it ha a short. rsnu2cript
poen, '"0-.,lz its.iLf a pr,.::cni tor of "L Monocle;," was
w.'..-ten about a :. r 'ie'i.c,:'c the un.blicoation of "Su-nday
MIrxuir, See Buttul, pp-. 1"-86.

Suyrly the opening address recalls Mar'a. liturgy--.' Hoth.c;

of God" and "Regina of Rome"--but its overall purport

levolcpn out of the contrast between inmaningless words :which

dor not kill and freshly realized words that do kill. It is

Surovons' old conflict again between tho imagination .a

rormi-Ltic queen and the destructive power of language a.3,o-

cil;; ..d ii. h thi irnm ediate world (science, bv.siness, Irc'd::.'.:

life). BLt now the memory of The "radiant babble that c.iho

3a:" causes a "deep up-pouring from some sal.id.r v.ll /

Within. . The contrast between the imiaginstion as

queen of Lf hesavons and the depth release of n'w "f :tor

sylla1.ble" of poetry (not from the heaven? btut frrc the rind:)

prfig'-ur.s the r.lignanc.t ofi symbolic forces botii in thi ;

poe.m and in Han~roniium as a whcle. The imraginatiron as

-trn.':sccnd;on quoon gives i:ay to the depth .forc.c oi' "sorm

saltier well," Stevens' imagination iimaed as wo.~man shots

cail in this first. voluei for "the high interior:; of the

soa." as the ;'Paltry H ude" who "iS disco2nt:-.n / AnlJ .ov.'..ld

have purple stuff upon her ar;ns" (5). Her graduuL. ernncble-

ment. throughout Stevons' pootry will depend upon ..or rlola-

t.ionshiu to the 'atur tl processes of oa:r.ji and Che :.:e1 il of

the ir. ainar.icu that she sym:bolizes--the ",Cc-n vJ.nr; :nger-

i'g fo-- life- (95) ai ,i Lhe '"interior oceOSln' rocking" (/9).

Section, ii cor.bin, es symbolicc expresion ';ithi rii-

cii'sive oxpl-_nation, Stevens' janvorit; poer.ic technique (in

t1i..: poc:n occurring j:.i varying dugre.ces in otler.Sy :-;ction).

h::" "ro:.:r biYd,," -epr.isenting; Stevens' own doi, i r.e, h r(-Er

sce.es his singing place "A'mong the choir- of .ind and wet

and iring" (earth's natural processes). But while the caging

poor. thri;uglh consciousness of passing tim', cannot colobrate

the spring his insgin:.tion continues to require and imagine

tlranscende:ce and love (cf. section v). The impossibility

of individual. Fphsic'L bea.uiy .urvivin. in time is the

,F.j.ct of" section iii. The implica tion is that it is

foolish ;o seek the "end of love" in such a forn of beauty

(abbroviateod here a: hair) then "not ono ,-Jrl in nature"

.-urvives. Y'et the I"radicj-nt bubble" of the imaginat;.on's

desire--rthe woman imaged here in her uurnade hair and

probably still partially associated with the poet's wife

(cf L, 2.1 )--continues to appear out of the mind's depths,

sleep (f', 1'13).

T.e? central ther-me of the fall is the subject of

r.c'cion iv. Consciousness of time and inevitable deaTh

mlrali that the physical fruit of lifo ta.-tcs "acrid, ;

instead of "tweoet" as it did formally when ithe !irginszion's

.image of love and b-auty was Ev, existing out.side orU' time

in '`heavenly, orchard air." T'he .lymbolic opple teaches the

3mTi moral a's the skull, but "excels" thb- s.:ull in teaching

not only F.aareness of death but also of thie loss of love--

since it it,:elf is T-he "fruit / i O lovT. . ." At this

po'i;nt in the poem, then, love re:nsirin pr..;.scible only to the

"fi J:'y boyJ': and "swae--smelling virgins" of section v.

Venus, t:h "furious ."tar," burns only for youth, whose love

iJ:s bound up witQh the ni'ocre;.t-.ive pro.ce-ses of earth--'.:hich

for thoo -ooc merely tick "tediou-'ly the time of one more

y;ar. And 1-h recalls the crickets (a persistent image of

cyclic process for- Scevens) and the tine when his imagi-

nation'.. firstt imagery / Found inklings of [its] bond i.c

a.ll that dust. "

Section vi and especially section vii initiate a

turn' toward the first positive aim of Stevens' spiritual.

do not agree with Joseph NL Riddel that section vi is "the

most prophetic stanza in early Stcvens" --althcugh on an

abstract level the section points to the crux of Stoverjs'

problemm. IThe real breakthroughs in Stevens' dovoeopmrrnnt do

not occur on a conceptual. plane but in1 the riythic sFymboi.Li.s

that links together the desire of his imagination .land hi:.

sen;.;, of a physical world. For instance, in tn.i. case,

section vij provides a genuine mythic thrust 1.hich corntinues;.

to develop into the lterr poetry, while section vi ctatcs na

nbstrac-Ct problem that remains fairly const.,-t throughou

Stovens work>.4

If the problem for "men at forty" is to discover

"The basic slate, the universal hue," the diffiicultry is to

p2c..crvv. cnei "substance in us that prevails" (ti2,: desire and

the c1.ap.acl ty for love) in the face of tih "quir', turn 1s "

-The Clairv'oyant Lye, p. 91.

Ri. ddel hi qics-.!lf sayr: "There is every indication
that rStevenI'j ideas in th- abs tract were fullyy orxed (if
not clearly refined) in rhe early poems. . His d3volop-
m.(nt is m.n..fest in an evolution of si'yle"' (Th Chai'e
^,"'r oP }

ofj t.h iiimiediu.te i,oil.':. La other words~,, how can wo relate

in love to a basic abstraction in the nid.st of a world of

particulars that comm-imnd our .atentions and our lovo while

remi.ndiLng us of our &-ge At this point in the poem, it

still app &.rs to Stevens that wherer amorists grow bald, then

,1mours sh-SinkI- / Tnto the compass arnd curriculum / Of intro-

spective exiles, lecturing." Love remains "a theme for

Htrycinth alone," that i:oimortal youth.

The ,way out o.C' the dilcmmra enmelrges powerfully in

section vii first through spiritually weighted imagery:

The. mule- that iagels ride come slowly down
The blazing passes, .from beyon-d rthe suun,

Instead of ascension myth, this is descensio.n myth. The

angels ,retu-n '; :o eari:h, and on rules reminiscent of the

ChrI.st. torj .as well as of the, self-denial and otherworldly

aspe cts of the judco-Christian tradition. The centurions

are of this world: thcy "gufL'a:.," and their tankards

sh-rill, not t.inkle like the bells of the muleteers. They

ar:e Hc.ir.l i soldiers, certainly reminderss of their counter-

part.- oat the C;rucifixion, although here they are within a

cs:..xi -co;:.ir,. context. "Supposu these couriers brought amid

tj.ir tra?.in / A duriael heightened by eternal bloom." In

cuch ;a-.r, t.he "univers-al hue" sought in the previous

se:ti'-on could pcrhap: 'ne found in ;the transcendent idea of

spirit. b:-auty, and love brought; nou to earzh. whose honey

"both cor:,ies and goes at ones ," Stevens expresses the idea

Smore fully in "Peter Quince at. thu Clavicr"'-- especially:

The body dies; the body's; beauty lives.
So evenings die, in their green going,
A wave, inueri-.inably flowing. (92)

A sc:ise of the eternal within Whe processes of time, a-nd not

outAidc of thenm--this is uhat the descending angels can

bring from "beyond th-- ei." This is the "ancient aspect

touching a new mind' which the poet in section viii

"bohnld [s.1, in love."

But seven a.N he sees in noe: light tihe eternal dcansul

of the imagination of earth, the poet cannot avoid ,harp

av.arie;:ess of his own decay and approaching death. SP...ing

of himself and of the woman of h s im.:gination, he r'.:r':c:

Our bloom is gone. Wae are the fr-.-ui. .,herieof.
'.i?wo gol den gouidsr distended on our vines,
Into the autumn Leather, splahed wi t,- frost,
Distorted by hale fatne-s, turned grot scu-.
We hang likco waru .-..-.ua.";c". .t'reklod .-nd rayed,
The laughing sky uill s1e the two of us
Washed into rinds by rotti':g winter rains.

Steve'ns'. constant sf:if-irei.inde.-s of age and death can b-

underztcod, e.::ially in Harmri;_ as persistent sttdr:p;L.s

to negate the he romantic tendency to idealize the earth wiS-

out fr..ly acc.:puiii its di-rentcl.ons. Recalling that Els.ie,

-i, uwi,?.e, ha.d been (a-Id -;tll plarti.all.y iw'os a'. the time of

thij. pc,,0, apparently) one of' Stevens' images for the oueen

of hi. mai.naation, the f'cregoing ocknowledgeO;:nt of age and

death Ss parti,5icularly p.iLai.ant in viei of ri.hj followin.r mcre


yoi-th;ul. extravagances in letters to Elsle (r.':h 2, 2.,


you will everr [;ro; old, will you. . You must
always have pinki cheeks and golden hair. To be
youn.y i~ all there is in the world, The rest is
noijsense---and cant. . Let us wear bells
together aind never grow up. . W ill that stop
Time and Iatlur?--Lct us trap Natr'e, this cruel
mother. .. (L, 97, 100)

Although in section ix Stevens urges his imari-

nat:on--his "ward of Cupido," his "venerable heart'"--to

"celebrate / T.;ec falth of forty," all but the Most general

idea of what'. that faith is remains unclear at t'-is point,

especially in view of the mordant recogiiirtcnZ of the pre.-

vioas sectionS. The contours of the faith will only slowly

be fi'lld in fr-.o here on by the cel ebration of Steviens

poetry. Tnc ri.to and the faith are interi6ependent. 1-ow in

a. jovivl manrc,'. the pcct seelk "verses wild with r.oioo:-." to

reflect the war of life, "music anid manner of the paladins /

To make- oblation fit." He asks: "Where :a:l'. I find /

Bravurc. a.tequat.c to this gr.at hymni?' The context is

dandy.sh, but the search for the right "Bravura" is essen-

lia.lly sericus- and central uo Stevens' poetic qucst.

Section x introduces one of Stevena~ most pervasive

mythic images: the tree, partic-.laily the giant pine troc,

A stately point of reference irn Stevens' mytliopoeic geog-

r-phy, the tre: serves to focus his sense of the procreistive

earth; for i'hlle be'ng a part of the gri:en, cyclic pattern

the tree also rises above it, a natural abstractin!i.

.tc'c-ren' tree :stands gigantic" and contr-asts s;,'arply w;i rh

t.: "magic trecl" and 1'bsal.ry boughs" of the "fops of fancy,"

Such trees as thcse latteEr are usually vi-ualized. by the

poet as palm trees (cf. "cloi.dy palm," 68). ]Noi, nob]e anr.

not phallic, they appear to be associated in his mind with

the mystical side of thLs Bible (one th.iuks of the "mule.3

that angel.s ride" and Jesus' paim-stre.wn entry into Jeru-

sal!:m.). In this section of course, .he "balmy bought" uith

their "s:i.lv:r.v-riuddy, gold-vorniiillion fruit" more broadly

connote a goneraliLd sense of the r:olrma-itic. Stevens wants

it. clear that his "yeomanr" symbol has nothing of the

mysti.cl.L. about i.t. It is simp-ly tlo enduring, procreative

earth itself focused inr.o the phallic tip "To which al-

birds cone sometime in thei:.,r .tiue," Just as the "red. bird"

of section '.i seeks his choJ.i in the 'irind and wet and

w;ing," so the birds here are tLoCally i;..~hinr ths ::cherme of

nature--urlike the poet, who in the following section makes

it clear that msu often rct. "without regard / To that

first, 'c.:.omo:;t .la.." But. while Stcvens is able to illus-

trate that sex is not all, he at the same time 'places hir,-

feef in the "Anauishing" position of having separated

hi;i.eif once again f.ro:' the processes of earth, the

processes toward whici: his po'm h.ic. been moving to validate

spir-i tual].y. He find'. hiraself hoeRe irn the ssme position aC.

in section ii, sepcr'ated ifrro m the choir of birds and .witrh--

out a r',oi'r o'f ohis o-L:I except his mc:.,or of his earlier

romantic sel f-- !.:. ".ad: C. L'bbtlo" before the apple was

tu.:.to.d. The lat panrtI of se -Lion ;:i ij. ..ustrates -the

div.isic. between the iroiafntlic "pool of pink:" and ".odious

chords" of the f';rog. The imagination: continues to deo;;:re

its "heavenly, orchard air"--hore its pool of liliec--but

"Last- ni`ht" is pact and the imaginationn can no longer

escape the sound of T"he booming frog (slimily real, sexual,

and dying).

"Le :lonc-cle" conclud,::z on a positive note, pre.-

figured by the, descent cf th' mules and by tre gigantic

tree. Stevens' pigeone ave ;i.pt symbols of modernn spirit

imaginationn), ordinary birds of man's cities, replacing the

dove, The traditiional syr.bol of the Holy Spirit.

A blue pigeon it i.s, thit circles the blue sky,
On sidelong win., around and r-unld and round.
A wl-ite pigeon iT is., that flutters to the ground,
Gromrn tired of flight.

Th- blue pigeC.n of 1oan's own i agitnation has ascended .a-id

taken on life in t.eo bl:u sky.- The white pigeorn ofi t.re.n-

.ce:,::e.rt :prit n.jas flutLered back to earth, Jescenrcin'- like

the mii'les. TLh pou compares himself to a rabbi, cnce ageair

dr w'.-.ng on the, spiritu.Il fun.d of Judeo-ChriLziaJ. inagcry.

When young h'.: ias distanced fr'om the imnirediate world., his

piri rual i:.'iination focused elsewhere, and man then onl.q

a lumn;- of' fl eh in his sight. Spiritual prescnoe 9e..l

physical real..ity remained divided u.int.il_ now whein he if. no

longer. content t-o simply ob,-srcv.1 '.n "lordly studyy"

Li''o 0 r -e 7bbi, lat tr:, 1 pursue-d,
/uid :tll. pu rsue; tlh :.ritin and course
Of la.cv, butL .til r- o; I nve-r IC:ew
'it- f 'l .li' .tl te' r-ng t-.,ing.l s Iljso so disv.inct shido,

*:'.. ''.i:. .n t. -.:I. ".u :j.; : : "I.;: '. 3 j .9. pr av1 ils, the

C ; *c:i ,' t'r 0,' for r:-r-;;-. t..Lal response to ia ,.ac ed

O. tI, St.v sl annr.'.u. 's lI.- i,-.. t o f his quest. The tran-

scs'-en. da;.::sel has .: '',.:, the w"i.ite pigeon has

jl:',tt.tred into thi', of '..;: "c vor.l, -.hingE w:l ch now have

a -ade '--rem-niscli :- of tr.. bndil.n s o piit-.:h.acs of

Dan.-te as ell as oC s:i,.p-, phys-lcal -c.'alir.y. ']'l,; conc-usion

of the poem is onimratic. Thie r'r.L.;.r; ofi such total iinca:--

nation is the purpose of Stevenz 'L... -.LOr~ ex:loration.


Co:yls.cencij.s of tho oeiy',.-oi r, .nJ l-it"
Cof'.e c ..range. ..s L::. a junny h" ir,
Arid the gr,. on. '.e,.. of a c-oc.:atoo
Up'r a rug r!uin;:iL.. to di. i:.l:.t..
rI.'.e holy hv'..b of ancient. &ac'i: ic'.

"Sun'ay lortnin" (66-',') opc-.s with a confi:;.

L,.- fiee!. tn e religious imaginaticn 0 and th; .:rJ.ei tc; t o wor.;.1.

uil.. ho'c t' c -i'.n:m oi: wo'ld is a mcr c:'c.rul :nd Iapp7

o0!:. i;'-. In r st.3 scoct ..?.s' of. bL ri'.U.:,;]', and CiZei is less

nI t",]i in -',r.. ,-re, of vb:.-. rC-:lig" 1'' p'." L .1 Jru

in ;i.,; o:i .zt. .-. A ':" ::. ':--neW oic u^ in :1." t_'.r3C. .c".,::.

C-, T: : --. :, ,."7 1 ...7 '.. lt'. -'x, ,.'. ,v i.. of i '. .:. l.'. 3.d :. :*.- : t th .-

u '. '. :, .. :' ? ; t"h:'.'m i old c. a-..ra .:-. ..: p .*:: or cha nr on tihe

pr'..:.;11".. 'T',T i -1 Uf n e -;:.1- in, .;S ,. r, ,e V .... len'; "nbe ; ; ;Augh'

: ... :'-: n l .i ;" e : > .'. t :)'.Z. *' '* .'* i:,I .l2 j i na ti nP t '..:

;.is j:.:j *.Co; a .. i, ..'is 2 '.. 1 .r te. l .L.lu.. inana :ft. t1l 3; !

i t: Tli. ::in; i crm in tYhe Crist-ian.n m y;. hutny ) t pc J2C S.Z d.

:i"' th L :. -di -- ...' s.d.

'.i... .i.rs' sec ti:.n. ': s '/ on D-r'''1 d r c& -l.ik

;" :,.lI ;,J.or: c.i '2hi, tu.co wo,.rLds :-.r.i abl.'l fIor t;h)e in.Mx.ina.-

o;5r.' s o .. 'i, l us t 2.-ace,, Tain Crutcifi::in moves :.n i;o bnt

c":.. :... ." .rii, ou n s^ Dri 'a l.y F &af ;..o.-thl.ly -a-nd dea..i:-

o:.i- nt.-J ..r:.3. It bcjgi.n; as a "caLn" Ir:vi..g ac-,c.3 water,

ru..-'*:->r!.n t.?. h n:.ng ripp: os---in a .er.cs.: tal::in thle li'-f

o'l.t oi' t. e? ;:atr., F-.'om, the per:-spective of her ad:-.-ra ao

:.L .::. c ..i :. i: th immA.diate wo:].1d "pu';E.nt cr i-;,.3 ? a&;;

.rig- r- i w -igs / Seon cthiui. in smL- rons. ': :' o he

."'" , Steven s' ~ wat0'r s'. bcli ;' n 1 sc*'":i.*.. -;: l-;

of ; .,:"t. .:- ..-' ve-lopnent: 1l 'e":-- ivi'.. :- i. .B *:.th-"ic.in .

'r'c:' '., 0 [ ti:e oarzh .nd. ti.--for "in-,....'.1.O.lW '' Ar

" r ..-u. t .1 ., .. c\n *.t C "o'.3 lJ.h- ridee uat j. -'' to L.'2.r D. ;

o.L' th-. b.Loo: nd scpulchro." Sac'ifi cial a. nJ death-.orI'..ent.. ..

t,::; C ..stii n a ,jyth: a, St. ve.nrs ._-s i.c here, c.n-.3 in f- ? ;

c r:.. "act to the I reiG ). car'c.h,

I'.-o\vi.3 on t, it iore dis;.-.cur:':i e l3. ,']. -r'. se. t.Ior :i. ,

1"'e"n.: a ., 7'

l-, : i i.lz.in L'. . c.y cone
i- : s~. l j l'.h d.:U 3 .....1 in Q"'.:..c)c ?
cR,.71 9i-, .1 dt fJind .i co..c s .,
in :';-i .z'i 1rt'it. an-i hc '-bt, f!P7 : *..yj,-.n 1r rJ..:.:c
.' .. n ^ '1..- C' hi o _:. I. ..1. n i.'';1:: tF.2; ..."1 L .? 5.

I .'P. '( .r. :. ; .' th ( .*i% c: ;'i o .:21-. i2i l, :-i.;. i ....v .

Stevcrn'j. funjiE:.r.3nU.al mnii-God, earth-Heac.'c. metaphor has yet

a comfortable prettinsss about it.. Whlat remains to b.03

de&cl~oped ove)- some thi 1ty-five maor years of poetry is a

mythic portrait of earth-hea.vn is ali-n, -avage, and

powerfu].--arnd real. Here the 'neasurc3 d.Ltined for her

soul" are rain, snoui: for(:c, and so on. Baz the full

measures which will come to provide the forr'.s of the pect's

ir'agination will not be arrived at so easily. The falso

romantic iw.ill be decreated--inlu'ding many of these "pas-

.iorns" '"ncods," "Gricviin, ; "Elations," crjd "gusty /

Dno cioins. In lator poetry 'che earth uill not only h

celebrat-.d as paradise but affi.rined at th,', sa- e t:.T--. -.ru ij..

"eo~ential barrennezs" (393).

Section iii is a call for total inicarnation. The

trouble with Jove iice in his "inhLuan birLh" and tle fact

that ':;io ;.-eetC land gave / Large-maniered motions to his

mythy minJ." It is the huran that is the center or ir-clrIs

spiri':uc.i; it is Chrisr.'s human desir-e that is re-spo::.,".

for "'romningling`' mi.an;s blood with Jove -s nind. One

wot1nOl -., though, .c hetlier the skl: ;i.1. be "mi ch f'ien' i I r"

af'er .,ie sky GC'-: has. dos-ceided, Even if ii. i.j 1] no:. 1b t the

so.irce of rotric.ut.:.on, i t wil.?. hi ,ve bi:ern e ornp.i.dd of itz
r~s .Ldi spirit. T- .sf ]3jk .; i r- oc w'ill come to

declare a presence that iso part of man's "labor" aind "pain,"

bu't in it.l.~ a "do rminant blank" (477).

Se.t...on i.v, v, and vi a.-s.srt the single. reality for

mnY :' f ti'.; and earcih: :TThere is not :,-.'; hau'ns of

p.ophucy"; only "April's green endures." C'ncu a~ain b.irds

inhabit, the landscape, providing morning Jong and evening

descent. The "consurination of the swallow's wing.;" pre-

pa res delightfully for the pcem's final irrnage, The ingLI--

nation' s longing for "imperishable bliss" conflictt: Lbh itc

quest for enduringg love" (lasting, not everlasti..g-.'-in

other words, for sacred beauty, Buc '"Death is the:, ;ncl:eri of

beauty; hence from her, / Alone, shall co:re fu.lfill-lmnt to

our dre.nias / And our desires." This earth-mo .hiu-deaTh

figure is central presence in Stevena' poc -ry. Here it is

sufficient to observe that "Although sh str::-'s th'e lcat.c .: /

Of sLure obliteration on our paths . ., Shy-. r!s the wil.'low

:;lij.ver in the sun. D" Deatl and procr;ation ari twin

aspects of the same process, and Steven.-' ;'willow tree is

another of thei poet's pine-tree-liko iiagos, phallic and

rooted !n thle earth. 'Iie tree is given mo'.ion by the wind

of. chan-ge (death) when seen in the light of the real su:n.

Like ths "fiery boys" rand "a;eeL-Enelling vi'rin." of ",.,

Monocle," the youths of section v, Involved in the proce::--

o. death and bir'th, awaken to the sexual do thcir dev-o'jiona

&sL "su".ay iA-.passioned in the littering .' el ves,': once a~. -..

bringing life out of deaTh (c.C. 183-S!;). Still hove-v;-r, the

pooti (or the wouman-figure of his imaginiaut.cin) is n?2. lon-ge3 a

pr--t o.C thi.-: scene of youth--although hiis .sense of loss in

frl'-: ->sa -'rnoiunced in this poem than in "Le Monc'c]'e.'

iLJ.2e -sectin. v'. illustrates the source of A.ril'-s endLuran(e,

.s."at- '. '.i .'. .A:tovens' first longer' cc.o ari'.so of earth to

;:.Iaur'.iso, .'inin ng in :rth the substance of i; n's imagi-

in .iacr' and hi. par: dise, .

As :\e a,,v'. observed of "Le K.'nocle," the processes

Cof u':irth i.on'tersd in time and change are envisioned as the

prop,'.: envi-ronrmort. for a fresh spiritual, the eternal dame

coii..iI:- to.( r33t in the realm of the gigantic tree. Section

vi con!;:: l.-. the answer to tlhe imagination's need .{'or

"-Imp."r v ble bliss." Instead of emrphasin-inlg positivL.J.y the

proIoss.es of earth this section nsgates the idea of imper-

in.habLe paradis-o3. Without dea.h, paradise see:-.s r-oerely a

pl.o copy of earth, but thc. argument -.till depends at this

point on romantic images of nature, st;ch as the "silken

wuaving:r.' of our afternoons." The soct.ion concludes b5

affirA-:ing the realm of earth-mothor-det-tii as the miatrix out

of which develop cho imagination's creative queens:

Death is the motor of beauty, mystical,
:' thin iho.se burning bo: :.' devise
Our earthly mothers waiting, :.leeples sly.

Once ag:i.n, as in "Le Monocleo (iii), thec creative presoice

is az.-ociatz.d with sleep, or rat-her with the slee',:..,:

deptrhs of' being, described elsowhe-'e as "VocaliA; imrus, / 11,

thc dis,.ancs-3 of sleuo" ('113)

ALt;houpgh declaring th.b earth m.n-arI's spiritual abode

p-.ovidcS the basis for fr'6eh bl*ief, th~e next stage of the

.problor: con.;cJrnls the ";rav'ura aden:ate" to the devotion, the

rite t.a'; .wn form, the pvres,.-nces of hc .spiritual. Section

vi) :'. :'.:;.c:.:. fi':s;t .".ajor o,'foi rt to i-'::E.g, both a devoticn

...; ::. .- .'.*:' : tJ.,.,e c 'he do vc'.ion i:.'.:-cl 's, r pri i tivi t

exul:rancc, both bodily motion and. vocal chant, a "bcivonly

fol..owship / Of men that pcri. sh. .. The sun 13 not a

God, "but as a God mighL. te, / Naked aWiong tnem, like a

savage scurcE.." Such "boisterous devotion" Uer.ssts only as

a .inzr. aspect of Stevens' rito. It. sewr.s to belong more

properly in the comic picture of the "disaff.'ccted flagel-

lnt'ms in "A High-Toned Old Christin'm omnn." who are

'"wll--tuffed, / Sm-acking their riuzzy blliec in par-.de:'

(59)o But the sn, of course, endures :is & major mythic

presence in Stevens' poetry. Exalted and elcmenta-y, both

naar and. di:stnt, the sun as a "savage source': exists st the

junctio-n of one of Stevens' symbolic cross-currents. Like

the eartb-iocther ,&ho is both death and renc':al, the sun

(later a consort for her) is both of the s:-y and of the

earth. The chant of the devo;:oes is "of their blood,

returning to the sky, but the sun, unlike ,To.v, "dlij.'"

in the "sweet land"--tne lake, the t.reas, snd the hi.l.... 7'

the extent fch'at the primitive ir.en repre3an-r an cf.fortc to

become one jith earth's p'rccrsecs, they do ino l p)rovi:LC j.)n

adequate avenue for Steven' 1'u;rthor developr.mnt. He has

already shc.-wn that a mnan "past meridian" .1:) cOianm.t, joinr

nature's fhoir, but as men through uihon their nrs'-ural for'ccs

0.0.. :ptc&ak "voice by voice," these men are more e.lciaents of

nlat r. :! th:an ::'prescntatives of a new belief. The real

nignificance of this section for ,;cvens' drvelopmcient is

that -:t; shows the e. arth declaring it,3l.f, providing the

configurL tior, of the cha:.-at to thi OQod-li:e sFum and to t'he

.for';:S ,: wL: c.-n ti,:-ue to chliir after the mcn'r. chant is

cc;cnpl.3tcri. The men thcms .lmvs arec of' .he "dew"--1:hic:h

StA.Tcn intc.rp2-.3t. in a letter: "Men do not either t:or.ie

from zi:.vy direction or disappear in any di.L'3ction. Life is

; '.- .i-ngles : ;.3 acu" ('T, 2 0), The prime interest of' this

ect.ioin for the developingg myth is that the natural elements

(hr.rc still romlQ.anji'ized) are conjoined :iith a. dr:votion t2

th3 .:Iun "as a God ..ibit1 be '" Euch later. in Stcvens' .'-"-.'>,

the forcess of ea.th thingss of the- s'uni) w ill come to form

tho confiiguration of th(. ii.agination-God when uni ted in the

icon-' f). the poom.

Sec-tion viii is in a sense a r-eve'-.ac;i.on th:;.c i. mr.;:.'",L; s

to 0a 'fY.l di A si s ral of tne extra.-terrestriai. cso,'ecnt9 of

Chriian.ity. The impulse in theo fir..;t scction to cricos the

"uid.-: i :.tCr" on "dreaming fL> :%;" is noi: a.'rcstd b a vc...;

friom i.;.e same. spirinuL..u. dimension a,.nnouncing: "The to':!. `n

Palestine / Iz not the porch of sirits lingering. / It is

i,,rn g(-r e of Jesus, where he l ,'." 'he imagrnatio. cr".. 7no

i.or--' oscTrpe the; water thau Jecus cou cl ti)- grave; and the

wate-.r that has been withoutt coun'6O" is new the stage for i

voice cf :r-cl.rtaru.ion. Stevens h:.d .r-cord." in lItter-

sore .'-..:.vs earlier his res.ponsc to t.he "j.endei- the life

and *Jea-th i:" Jesu.z" and his eucid .n ;c..j:. at. ..l t, it "Gc.

as.s distinct from Jesus" (L, 140)> But in this section what

is left when Jesus h:.runity is aiiircnd is an "old chaos of

the siu.," life with no oetervna. sponsor, H:er the central

ten..dency for -S events to r-edtuc the er..'th t-o i s;.'}:...ess

i:s count-ered by more r.rnmcnti nature iLr.agery--deer, quail,

s.nd berries--th5ugh. one stop a.'C last is accomplished: an

accepta:cc; cf the haxEnity of Jesus as well R.s the "isola-

tion of the sk.y," Once again, as in "Le I' ,ocle," the

pigeons remain as symbols of the spirit descending to earth

from an empr,y sky, Also preserved is i.,. 3ens3 of the enigma.

of to .-neit; .opi.'.r Tual condition along i;ith a sense of

affii'rative hope--the "extended wings"--like the blue

pigeons of "Ije Monocle."

Looking back over the two poems, one observes a

con;-ic dandyisrm in "La Monocle" that is far le.ss pronounced

in "Sunday I.orning. Though there is no question that the

comic r?!s,) ,i-.lds P. significant place in Stcvcenz' frcsh

spiritual, tl pcot':s sense of coi.edy will be inc:'-asingly

as~n-i3,i..ated an- balanced i;itb the medir-ativc and :iythi.t

tlren-..L of his poetry (cf. '.St. Arknorer's Church fror,; :.'t-

side, : 29--10). And even "Sunday Molning" points in thi s

cdirec:-. r. Overall, "Le Ionlocle" is concerned with a ::::e-

what forrtunato fall, while "Stunday Mcrning" follou :; the f.11

;:itli an af.firma-tion of total incarnation Land a concomLi.tt

r.c.oeptan:--c of the finaliJ..ty of death. ''Lu.aday iMor'ning" aleo;

bro..chos movce .ful'y ;ne problem of a mythic foundation

(sun--God, mothe.r-death) to acclimate the spirit. to its now

onvic.:;iroent, although both poems depend heavily on imnaer?

of spiritual dcscnt. lhe main diiffo;'ence between the t;wo

pcem3; Is reflected in their citles: "Io Hi'nocle de Ilon

Ornc.]e' is a diiad'yeo :.qu image ncigmatical.1. 1 pointing b.-oth toj

t'. Lrick.. of language and to the general por-p.ecti, e or" un

ol..der nran; "Sunday lMo'ning" names a traditional, r-ligious

ey -as i;el.l uat calling Co mind the casual. tim.e for though'-

asl.ociated by some with that morning (cf, the pom:ri' opening

.ines,). Most importanti, the latter title lends from the

specifiially bnri sti&nr religious tradition to a remnindcr of

Lhe clomental basis of the word Smuday as a day of the ::-un

(-f. "Plouglhing on Sunday"). In a minor way, thi:- trat.cgy

anticipated on,- .-:f the major tendencies .n $tLvens' poetry

as a whole. Tradi'tional modes of experience in a.1 2.,'eir

forlms ars destroyed at least momentarily in order to c.'..ato

the g:.:ound f'or fr-esh sight, experience c'f :. r'n sccr-'d, a

"p.jrimitive cte-.'y" (321).

In the manner, then, of the word S.uiday, St,3ve0

-adu.-lly covers vast, olomental .:o:.'co.--presen(es .of

earth and shy thtL con.3titute the mythic L.ic:.-nsior c.f the

poetr.y. Th'tese .symbol:; genera-Ly. rerlairn '.bstrac;, tLo "the

extent that they are not records of specific personal.'

ex:r.;iencies but rather vague forces that ..culy enter thec

poetry to fom fo nninally a primintivo-like ir, ui op;;ing :.ut .i

i;.unc-lato world. In a sen:c. th min, th ec i :-. i;:- are :M,.--.

re:l.in aftor Steven-s' (Adevrcatcion t'ak:es pcico. .;:hen .- r.n'.

,jxporiencc beco.izrs Lotlly." durom -antici sd (,:nytholoL:.c.),

t'.;o domaL.ns :re-:':~n: first, the i :id. nade up of hue-

abstrui ct Li on of .th- o ..t-'r.ial rld--Treo . .c:-.d of Crt, .:.,

Sun in -c.ead o .. specific sunny ,'.ay s; and, secc.nd, ;-e:.

*J'.-a -ini \.roj]i (:c. ...pericnced in a irn_ .i... :-;'i.-.- ;iac

..ys eoy--. Pblnk-- t:s t for which wc have no words. B.. th

th.:re e:::s;riential conditions form. the background of SC;.::'n:'.

poetry and, of course, both are functions of the sa.,:e con-

ts.int--the d ::ui,iruct ioL (or acknowledged deterioration) of

form'..:," odaes ol' spir-itual experience.

The poetry. of H-.rmonium as a whole traces the p.rcb-

le.m? resulting v',j.n spiritual desire lacks a mode of spr.rit-

utl ful.f.].i.llmnt. Often the world appears to be either a

.I;;.m (I-:.:i lout. j:-. igination) or a false rorLrantic creation

withh :iIr:.gination). For example, the prime tens,.on i. the

volume. a.-: ;;. 'hole res'mblcs Crispin's difficulty in deciding

ber.'-.ocn "man [as] the intelligence of his soil" and 'jhe

'"i.oL. -js] mp n'1' int-lli ence" (27, 36). ;cid'.ng :::;l on

the la:.tn:r. -guide. only leads. tc the "inrsolubl-, lp" (+.) of

t:.he ':.;orl'd s turlnip--cer.tai".,ay in comn ways r. lcc accer;t-

able ,.-..i.irmal condi 'ion than the 'fl' t.r.-'..ni.; thtirigs" and

:!esubi.igous unrdulaticns" of the poems under dis.cu.ssicn, pooJlu

whi. i;h do not cle .ily opt one way o': the other. for soil. 0o


But no macpitcxr what our opinion of St(veno-' ;*od: 3.

T. ivse "c tc:.:i-aticns in Hv:cr:Lori;mn thic i:ct :.** -.ir.': ..- a

l'..:-..o body .f 'ii;:hic i::c.:.ry has a"l..'cidy b-:,r-it w;.. d .ev .i, y,.

t,'A. roint"- in St-rsna' career. A .LoLc s o t- x'a lr

ferment. -:c oy.bo."Ls m.ake at least an appearranc. i;. :'-r.-jilr,

ai'tho uah o"f course most of .th.:1 will also .:o thro.a:h .. ..:

.full-.c..1,rt.Le development in hi. future poetry. I-. is Lr.', t.c.

turn i.. an a n.nlv i s c,. the myw tn"c dilensic-n ..f muph O: cL,


bazic imnagery in Borimolniu in order to provide the. f'u:da-

tion for an oexporation; of the mairi line of cUeveiopmwnr. cf

Stevoenn. poe try.



Beneath the meditative, urbane level o0 Stevrena'

poetry flows an undercurrent oP. elemental symhbolinm,. a wor;.

of mountain and sea, sun and tree, which combines i.thl tt.-

m ysterious woman presence of the imagination to fcTrm a

deeply primitive environment. Existing a.t the po:;.int .f ccn-

tsact bc,'..en. s; soc; experience aind the frcez s fi' the in..c::-

self, this complex of abstract imagery ope),ciLs as a mryt..ic

scr'.-2n to provide the basis of prosential expc..'ience. Not

ti;o be confu.ted with roment.ic pr'initi'.is, thisL mthic

a;nmos.ph.re occupies the vacancy left by decreat.onm re*:'ult-

ing pri::: '."ly from the good scene of Lthe centre.lly c ivil.z,'-:t

nind. That this primitive orientation in Stc~.',-ns' pooctry .is

no isolated instance in modern literature i. attested tc by

Northrnop Fry,-e's r,.-cent co.rients on the "mn-dern tradition":

Of :'.l1 elements in the mr-de-rn tradition, perhaps
L:h&.c of priirjit.lve art, of whatever age or con-
tinulLt, h:is nhad the nost pervasive influence The
priit:L.veO, with its imirTdiatLe connejx.ion Jwil.h
magie., expresses a dir.ectness o.0 irvngin r.ive
impact wnich is naive and yet conven'ionalized,
sponit-.neous nmid yet. l.prcise, It irmdicat3s Iost.
clearly the way in which & long and tired tradi-
tion. o1" Woicternr art, wliich hlas been refininrl and
sop'.hi?'tating i;.t elf for centuries, can be
revived, or even ruborn. Peri-.'aps the ]hinsnip
beI~t...ci, the primitive and ourselves goLE, even
d1epr. it hj.. frc-qunitly- been remark, d th.it w;e


,nay bc, if e :.urvivc, the prit itivec of a': uv.nLnci:n
culture, the cave m.jn of a new mental er:a.1

The. cPjtic at" temptingg to approach Lhis pl'rirminve

foundation. i:, a..et by the problems of trying to verbalize a

rpi.: l ;i.1 dil:i-ns.ion who:.se: validity parttly re.Islts f ro: its

not. being tied down, i'rom symnrls that :sho;:..ld re(-ain open-

onret:. Storvc::s "warins ta.t "Nothing could b. more evasivE.

&rn'J i..aoc.e;i ole [an nobilityy. Nlothi.n;g sorts .tsef

,-LJd .r;:-:L d.isguise more quickly. There is a .shar.e of dj s-

c3..-:'nsg i t .an'. in its dc.finite prosentationL a horror o.

.it:. :A, 34). In AnatLr..n of Critici.am Frye .warns that "it

i,' noi. easy to find uny .lan:guego capable o!' expross'ing the

uniitv of this, l.'.Lgher in ,t 'llectual universe MEitapl ysics,

t...-:..'y, hi j strry, law, have all boon used, ;':ut all aro

;:-, r. constructs, a-n.d the further we t.kc thl;:;., the mc. e

J.1c.a-... :, their meitaphorical and mythical outlines -o'.ou

th.rou:,w." Frye goes on to conclude: "Wvhe':ver .we on.'t.'uc

.;. '.:tinI of thoug.'.t to unite earth with heavrn. th- 3 story cf

the Tc:.'er of Babel recurs: we discover that after all we:

cais t qu t; mak'- i., and thiac what we have in the mlreantime

i. p'.u l..t.y cf lng'.igen." Frye.'s own an?.s:er to th,.:

J.-b.Len. .f.'cl-:C ; i un acceptance o.f "che cenv.rality ol arche-

typal c.r.ti:v.- czi::.ce "historical criticirn muncorroec ed

rlat s cu>.lt.'. only. to the pasr, [andl othic.:. critician:

uiLncorrec,.. ad rol' l Cos culture or1:'.y to the l'f:.u o. '" If

i.o dorn C-nJtu.rv (Toronto: Oxford Uiivi. Prl'oe
1 .67),: r.!..-- ".-

thl-; creamer of Finn-gan rNcakec fails to r.Wa!e use of t h "'keys

to (r'er.~land, such activity is left for the reader said f'or

*be cril.ic. Frye believes that making use of this "vr;tt

body of n ztalphorical identifications" can help to reforge

"cthe brcken links between creation aTd know'. c.;d., arn .and
science, inmth and concept. . .

Likew;isC., a cautious investi.gatJion of S'tven s'

mvithic forns c'-n help to forge a link between thlr poet's

interior ounliveri.e rand his experience of' a phlysic:.:l world.

While, such imagery faces inward toward the arch.!i-. al dinmen-

s:o1. of the u;.rli.d, it. also facos outward toward sY- sory

SxjerS.e.ca.. To *uni.er.tLand these elcmer.ta ai sr ols a.s r,'-. ic

pro.-.encsn is to soc thc poetry it'ejf p r6 c-lerly in its

rode of "instinctive i.ca'tatiion" (29i ). Steveis' effort

"to stop baro..ea!'*.';*t into reaulij y" (423) involves t:h cultiva--

tion o2.' c. sophi sticated rmiythopoeic s-yle that. has n..iuc31 in

commc;ion with prni.nitive myths. In sonme ways his fresh spirit-

ual is a ei.:-ap bac,! in the di.-rection of the primitilve 3ha1iaii,

who v.ith his inc:-,J:atory drums mesmerized jhis experience of

a *hysica. wor-ld .into ritual celebrate ion. Joseph Gampbelj,.

iw'ric.es, for instance, that primitiveo man, fr.'o: the first; 1 e

know of him, throh.i his myhs anld ri.s:o, turn.cd very

aspect of his wrc.k inato a festival. ''3 Recl.-.ing "Pr-y '3

obser;;at.1.ons concerning the relAu'ion bettw.een 1pri.I: 'tIve T-I;

Ar qlontom of Critici sm .1 95'; -'p t New York:
A thonz, L rzI pp. ooiq ~3 t 31.6, 3544.

r' reative. Mytholony, p. 33$,

3.nd the "long n:d tired tradition of :.'letern art," it is

possible to see Stevens' primitive-liko Coundation a3 a now

staog for presential expcrioncc.

Stevens' a:uarm-ness of the tireo traditions ana his

sons of an immediate earth are often iuntaoos;d in his

poetry. He writes in the very early "Plases":

There was heaven,
Full of Raphaol's costulmas;
And earth,
A thing of cshdows;
Stiff as stone. . (OP, 5)

In order to open himself to the declarations of earth,

Stevens f.r3iquently turns away f:romr the traditional toward ;

primitive freshness. Tnis tendency is clear already in

another errly poem, "Comme Diou Dispense do Craces" (OP.

13-1i) i'ro. "Lett.res D'un Soldat":

Here I keen thinking of rho Pri.itivcc--
Tho sensitive and conscientious schemes
Of mountain pallors ebbing into air;

And I rerienbcr sharo .jcponica--
The driving rains, tih willows in the ruin,
'JThe birds'. Ltat wait out rain in willorl leaves.

Altl.ournh life seems a goblin nur,;mnery,
These images return and are increased.
As foe a child in an oblivion. .

There yo-,ng imagination in the oblivion resulting from 1 he bb

C the old "mountain nallors" experience; s'hrpl3y like a

]priLiL tive an- iinredi. tc earth, which however rc,:iai's

"mnurmlai'" without a mountain myth.

The discussion which follows :-seeksl to hligrliLgh;. the-

rpiri tuaJ. di:.onsion oC Stevens:3' sr ib'lisi through frEqnt

co;mparxisons to p-imitive myth. In no way do I w:-ant to

u~;lerestimatre his emphasis on the good senso or civilization

rr to imply L roraantic regression. If Stevens' myth :rows-

out of hi.s attention to the primordial demands of the r ind,

it also develops out of response to an ij.nuidiate physical

w.rld and. to the demand of civilized consciousness. At the

sanme tirne I do not consider my stressing of the primitive-

lika side of his imagery to be reductive, Por in.tancce,

G' :a Roleim. has remarked: 'If the testimony of anthropology

indicates anything, it shows that primitive dar. is frea,

unutri-nmeled, and truly self-reliant in coraparison wit~~.

Medieval or Modern Man.."4

Stevens' mythic imagery from the Earn',"onlunr period

consists" largely of poetic abs:tractions of the process 3 o:,?

earth and oL.y and of ind of he ind o an and its relationsns. To

consider that such imagery merely stands for abs.t:ract ideas

is to reduce the mythic elements to a conceptual level,

when, in fact, such forms often enable the poet to escape

the confines of discursive thought, preparing the way for

abstract ideas rather than resulting from them-. Stoevens

mythic symbolismr is very Iuch responsible for i-th environ-

mernt of many of his pooemr, the kind of environment that

Stevens maintains "naturalizes (the reader] inr.o its own

im-agintion" (NA, 50). S.ach i:nagery p'rovide- a link between

thl pcet's abstract idoas and his ivim:-.diate sense

LI t..:ijc and Schi.zo p cren.ia. ed. W/arner M4uenstcrberger
(1 Q-,; rpt,. 'coIintoT-n: indaa Univ. Pre c, i?62), pT 50.

e xprienrte. ILt also provides a connection w:iwLh past r.:yths--

fictions -which have enabled people tc relate in spir .tual

depth to their immediate surroundings end tha mystery uvdr-

lying all.

M.irceo Eliade writes: "A thing becomes sacred in sc

lar as it embodies (that is, reveals) something othloer than

itse.lf." But since Stevens' development is toward sacranli.-

zation of the earth itself, the presence of his poetry (do

nor. point away from themselves. What Stcvens-E clemenrtaJ.

abstractions do reveal is the earth itself and the i inl of'

imanr-onot ele'meunts of earth embodyinR the "wholly othur" or

tho mind speaking God's Word, but rather thc. cartl and the

mind a: sources o.C The nyth of the "Iwholly oCt'.l1r" and of

God. 0lide goe.3 on: "The things that be,;o:o.s sac'-r-d is

still sap~arate.d in regard to. itself, for it only bicotnes c

hierophanv at the moment of stopping to bc a :zer s prc2,fan-:

sncr:;thirng r.t the moment of acquiring a nwc3; 'd::e-nsio,'i of

saC'.crednCess.':5 Stevons' miyth develops in respon:-..) to a

phyvi.cal universe that provides no hiuroph3ln.cs--ouly a

"I.;',l;i.t4cn of' Black." Stevens' inherited nytha do not

province for him the basis for e-perience 0i the :;.cr.d,. His

poe Gr;, is the.reforo largely not the record of' speci ii

sacred encombters, Instead, the pmyth:ic elcni.nts of hi.

poetry mostly appear carly and devculo;- gradually, loo.aing

lr.i1-'g and larger as they begin to form th. ground of hi-i

Patterns in Cu-rolrativc neligion ; t. toei ir
Sh.oed (19. t. Ipt. 1 '9w Yo3 : i .o ,ian o.' p. 13.

boli.-f and thz stage for sacred experienc;o-.-that i:. no I-

expsr'iMncs of an embodiment of the "wholly othor, but

3;:parienca -.f a thing sacred in itself, a ';"crar.y cr 'y that

points nowhere but to itself. Stc-vens' frosh spiritual,

then, is diaa'etricrl.ly opposed to the trs'itdional. onse of

the .oligious. l.iade observes: "Ilowhero in the history o.L

re.ligions- do we find an adoration -o arny nat:ur.ai object in.

itself. A sacred thing . o is sacred because it rovals1

or shc.res i7n ltimate rality. Every religious obcjc: .i A

always an 'inaar-ation' of something: of the sa red.n"

Stovei::' scrawray choristerr" is sacred be.-ause it is "pa.rt.

of the colossal sun" (?34). When ulLimat rel-.. ity for ,I.an

i. of tlh sun, the sacred object beco-._-:v b ica7:.:aatiion .of

the huimarn spirit alon3---which "auds nothing, [to rCo.lity]

c.:cepr its clf" (IA, 61 ).

itoevE:r' mythic synbolismr divides roughly according

t-o iis del.tion eithe to the earth or to the mind. Tae

ir'.g ..r do',v:.ccr to the earth represents natural pr-ocesaes.

and format m.cns centered i n anearth-roother-death pcrsor.ifi--

actio.. as well as in a symrbolism of the lifs-givi5. sLtn.

.rr.gory of the mind is rooted in S';evenor m.ulti.-f'nr od

womarn fiPgure, expressive of the idea of lo-, and b-a'u.y and

sup;pler,..mtc;r b tol.3 star Venus and the rite of art man'. its

cre blo ns.

61bid., p. "i18,.


A. we% have observed, tho basic mythic paf-rern oif tho

(e:3Ly/ StevE~s er.;ergos in "Le !i-noclo do i',n Oncle" and

:undy cxn;." In these poems the line- of spiritual

forc-: lei.d do.mwnr.-rd, but thero is no ocn:se of a sky God

irip.iOgr-yatiug the earth mothor--only everywhoro a sense of

fall-"in. to oarbh. The syrnbc.ls of the irnagina'tion alon-

appear to ",rie. The idea of .ovo is embodied in images of

wo:ren c':ad star, And the suLn i. presented as 3.ife-giving

force, wor.hipp?r. by "Supplc end turbulent" :..en chanting in

"crgy I'-'-t the rlat;ion bctwocn the procreative .aun-earth

and the poet "pra-t nmcridian" remains lp.rgoly enigmatic.

Ti'r.3 i'oi:3 of transcendei:ce are clearly denied in

tlhe:e r.oer,.: thl,, iyntical imagination -iithln and the trsn-

ace:denit Cod without. The opening address of "Lo Monociol'

to the i,..,,nivtion's lady .efist.es through an ov.~'abun ancio

. ,ounding of Maril.n li tu.g~': "]'tthcr of heaven, rog.in. o.

theo -lou.d'., / 0 sceptro of the cun, crown of tlhe ~.-oon."

E', 0. J-uni-,s chal'.ct rize' the "4Hadonna of Catholic deveo-

tion": '"Che is nothing less than the 1MothAer of God., iThe

Quoe.,- oL' Hi,:a.ven, the Woman c2othed with the s~n, I.aving hc-

r'.-'n u~! n-r' her feet rnd a cr-own of twelve stars above heyie

head, . Frcm tne outs't s"tevens denies the inmagi-

n.r..ionIs :o1;.'vo~ imarag. garbed in the tradit.ioiil, super-

rmundane- garments of Catholic;iism.

7 Th,- Cult of the ;iotro'-Go"de-C tse (London: TrJijr.,es ar.d
}iu.dson., I9, p. 2 .

Along with thin symbol of the imagination goes the

t:'raditional image of an extr.a-terrestrial man--God; ove of

t'h;. 'ythy mind" is no longer the proper consort cf the

ncthor earTh. The imprognating rain of "Ploughing on

,>..:dayl' is already in the field; it does nnt arrive there

through the offices of a beneficent or procruative God.

Only thri "wi'nd pours dowv-, bringing all tiranscundenr.l images

to earth. Eliade discusses the "notion of the :1uiv3rsa3.

monarcrn, a siu or representative of tho sky Cod on

earth. . [his] Emperor is the 'son of heavon'. .

Scverns announces in Harmonium that "The only or.peror i the:

cri;mp;ror of ice-croam' (64).9

Although Jove and paradise are to be anucceded Ly

mana azd earth, the portrayal of 3arth in Hailnon'ium is not

primarijly pnrtdi\iacal. Wnnile diz.p'.rate elCemnts or the

ear.lh--"'bright, green wing:"--are froquently i.elchrated. the

e&ro.h mother hersclf is largely a matter of death -und p:n-

cy.geatic. in "In the Cazolinaz" (4-5) Stcvo- ask. with

comiic surprise: "Timeless mother, / How is it that your

aspic nipples / For once vent honey?" Thi question belies

th-. p.oot' ,xpeL.t.ation of anything but honey f.rv, his mother

f-arth. Theo mioth-r's answer r J.n this ils;ta-Cte, is merely a

Pacte),rns, pp. 62-63,

SCrf. Alan W. Jdatts, "L':estar M:ythologyt Its Ilis-
Lolution and Transfornation." 1 vth, D._eris ruad fieliion,
od, Jo::eph Copb'll (New York: Uuv.co p.I 9' i'e
mrost b.a:sic model or imaso ot' the world t: which han, goveruod
vn.storn civilization has been the idea of iho uni:.'_rsa as .
p:L".!. r.l ni raby. . "

ri.cmant of Stevens' romantic view of nature (so clearly

present in his early letters): "The pino-trco sueetcn= my

body / Thn :whiite iris beautifics me.'" The deer, quail, and

berries of "'Sunday Morning" are part of thj.i same romantic

attempt to auke the processes of death rore palatable.

Usually vhen Stevens maintains in an ir.inmdiato way that

"Death is the mother of beauty," he falls i.ntc the contra-

di.tion of trying to celebrate a romantic nature made up of

"warty squashes . Washed into rinds by plotting winter

rins.'" This romantic orientation toward nature gradually

dis::.ppeai in his poetry, but thb presence of tht earth-

mother-death figure remains at the center of his fresh

spirit tual.

Most of Stevens' aclni(ouledFgments of final 6eath in

Ia r:.~:niLum are in a coriic-grotezsue mode. Dacrou.lbadour is

carried out of her tomb--her gate to heaven--not by angels

but by wonns (49-50). Rosenbloom ascends to be buried in

the sky "To a chirr of gongs / And a chitter of cries .

To a jangle of doom / And a jumble of iuords" (80). Rituals

ov'.onted around the idea of spiritual ascension, sy--bolized

by tho iose or captured by the Eiblical-.ouLding nci., e

Badroulbadou.'r are deburked by the burial of on c2dinary

corpse in the s k, botl "Eody and soul" (i3 ), osenbloom j.

as dead a.3 the woman iho is cuo.d and dunb, uibh norny feet

prot-.'uling, in "The Ernperor of Ice-Cream.i"

Eliude obLervcv: "The marriage~ be:tioen h's.voin and

earth was the first hierogamy. .. The divine couple,

Heavmn and Earth, . are one of the leitrrotiven of uni-

versal mythology." Stevens' earth mother presence in

Harmoniyur is loft. without her mythological consort -whon the

transccndent spirit of sky is denied. She sees "over the

bare spaces of our skies . a barer sky that does not

bond." Man's own spiritual condition alters, then, when the

ultimate sky fails to behind in union around the tarth: ':Yet

the spaciousness aid light / In which the body walks and isJ

deceived, / Falls from that fatal and that barer s:y, / And

this the spirit sees and is aggrieved." The poem's title is

"Anato.my of Monotony" (107-108), but its concer-ns very rmuch

point towards Stevens' future development. For the imagi-

nation of man will new become the consort of oeart.h. and

earth the con.ort of man, but only when the imagination and

God htvo become one. Furthenar.ire, the development of riTs1 m'

spj;ii. will be interwoven with his sons o o' oarth's

presence. The same poem opens:

If froni the earth we came, it was r-n enr.rh
That bore us as a part of all the ;b:i.n:
it breeds and that wus lewder th:.j. i, i.j.
Our nature is her nature. Hence it con:.-s,
Since by our nature we grow old, earth groa'
The sure. '.ie parallel Lhe mother's Qec.tl.

The identity of man' nature i th ea-hth's nature and

earth's with man's, sets the 3sage; for the prolific, sym-

bclic cross-current I have outline-- earll.i-, Ohien it is

developed that man is of the eart-h and .Also that the oarth

is of man, then the idea of .non;s3 iGo.-l-e and .:.rrien

10P tns pp 23
Pattedrs, pp. 239-40.

imjagino.tion will come into play with the earth:s heaven-likc

o.r.d barren nature. The glory and myvst.xy of human percep-

tion will evcn more completely occupy tiho center of Stevens'

poetic stage, But already in Harmonium the presence of

earth begin to decla>r- themselves, entering the vacancy left

by the poet:; recreation of traditional religious and

ao the tic roI:) a': t.iii .cins.

Int-imately involved ;i .l-h Stevens' awareness of the

earth mother are the inultitude of natural processes that

begin to structure his vision. Eliade observes that "The

primal intuition of the Earth shows i t as the forundiation of

every e.:pression of e'-L.stnce. All that ii on earth, i

ujii.t.ed ;i th -everytilin eols-, aiiu all .rakes one gresa' whilee"

'The. ic]chor side of thc'; earth mother fi;yu,~e as death is the

cari-.h n'othr as procration and r-;I;wal. Eliade write:

'"What we call life and death are ntroly two different.

moments in tho career of the E irt.h-McIi.h-: as a :holo: life

is nrercly being detached from the. sarth' ;;omb, death is a

roetu-nin 1g 'ho:me' 1

Stev.ns' sen.-e of the -ro;rcativo aidc of. life is

centerrod, i.1 Harmicni'.;i as well as his later poet-:;, in niS

archot:,pal tr-..e ima.gery. For Stevens, the tall, dark pine

tree declares itself a presence of earth, -h..:llic and

penr,.unnt, in i t.o positive form. itt remain'i aseadfa:. tihrou.g

all the seasonal changes of his poetry. Less an image of

11 Patternrz, pp. 242, 253.

sim.I-pli regeneration (such as the ]May Pole) and more a sort

of enduring principle, the pine tree standsI- large as an

unshakable struct ur,- of life (and therefore death also).

Eliade oberv,', that "t-he zreoo represents . the livinL

cosmos, endl.esiy ren.Jw!ig itself,12 Such is the tree of

"Le I-.:no]-.ce," which "stanas gi.uitic, with a curtain tip /

To which all birds come .-;oletij.;i in their tim:. / But when

they go that tip still Lips the tree.'

1When the pino treat is recogi-izod for the principle

of life it comos to be throughout Stevens' poetry, two early

renditions of' such traes sta.n;d out all the more vividly in

their negati,-.n. Scr:'.thing of the CarknosSl out of whi-.ch

many ocf Stevens' poems e.c-rgeo c(;Ln be experienced in the

following images, In "Doti;:n'ti:.,n of Black, the br..ht

colour of the leaves, the fire, and the tails of the pea-

cocks are all submerged within the "color of the heavy

hemlocks." The turning changes of lifo in the wind, than,

lead to vercigo and fear, not joy, Jwhven the poet sees "bow

the night care, / Came striding like the color of the heavy

hc-mlock!s" (8-9). Steven.' main symbo). of procreative life

is here a figure o.f. deaL.h: the bird. are not breeding in

this tree but crying out (and re-al peacokerz do Jcre ia)

against the coming night.

A companion poem to "Domination of Black" in Har-

mon; iu, "The Snot; Man" (-i 0), sounds the same nadir of

Itlid., p. 267.

zno:.-'. ;,'in; but this time a thr ough a sense of tho lifeles.sneos

of winter :-u"r.,ood of the protests of autumn. 0Dn' of the,-

( fi'j.culrJis ;- rh Lz'anliating S-teO-onsZ i.:a;.-- ry into ,-hilc-

3o-nhicnl ?ab- action is that. such a poem a. "The ,.oJ' M-'n"

c:n 'e 'cJa.dl sir~ply as an illus tration of the n!cessi ti~- and

Q:i.9 ic's of lrL.mn co:',scioCus3es or .im.Aination: t':o nmo";: nc-un

:'buIrolds / jiothin, that is not there ..and the no'ih-n the't

*is But u:nph.iL.:i.in.7 the elemental. -iL g.e:,s ,"1' tree apd

w..:1, oac can cxperi enice a power.rf.ul e'-,xp. ~lou .f -non-

b,:-.i:r inr -5.'ard wi or -ld:

0;:. ::must hlivco a min.d of w.intjr
To regard the fro t .and the: b:.:u,::.
0. the nine-tr'z--s crU t0i A.th ,nni;

And have been colj a 1.. tine-
To btholi : lthe juniper b." sbu. .e6 .:J th jice
T Ce .,orpiu.:.6s r.o lt-; in the dist..- nt Klitt'.r

Of the jO.:n::'-y r.n-!; aind not t: H..i
Of. ny misery .in thu .sound of' the \;i.d,
In the sou;.d: o'f few leaves '3. .

The trees of lif are coveCed wi th frc>;er dcO- ,h. The poer

is L-a cvccati.o of the1 "bare plce" G 0' c a CC:iZcou .'e.uss

pe.'.crioncin., a sense of non--boi.in without .ma.d 'J thi.n, the

world of ph'ys :cal death ct.onfron .in" a mind \,';..ch r,.u::i- v ai

r-olithin (or e:.pa:rienc.; '0i.c-;e ry in th,- SOL-id c f .hn

'.i. .It uould b.1 too pat to see thcis poe:m sL-,ply as

the o..p;-.::- ioi1 of .1 1.iind wi..hcut a su-aI ilin: f::yth; th:eo

cxt, na-l w.or.d o the poem is m, I,'O than. ju Ir'o'.fln'?.- -i. *

a world agai.ust life, one of frozen inactivity rerainiscent

of D;an'Uls version of Cocytus in which m.an remains frozen

within bhimse lf0

So thJc troes of lift in ~2.ar:r.onium :r-Qpro:en:!; n:on-life

(not just cyclic change) as :ae?. as physical regeneration.

.jAd in. these last two poems, 1ihe trees o':.rint clearly to this

point as spiritually the dark,,stf mno:.-3nt of Stevcns' poetry,

The ari-th's barj'.-enness i affirmi,-:1 without i.he Caving God-

im:agination of man; the mind's barrenness is affirmed with-

out thz saving heaven-para.dise of earth.

Another mythic tree image that appep.rs in H{armion.iu

an'3 ri-curs ini later poet.';r is Stovens' curious willow image,

The earth mother of "Sunday Horning" "makes the willow

shiv.-r in the s.Ru-" so that the maidens and ti.e bcys will

p-.oc6atO.. }H3:re 1-he willow is phallic and alive. in motion,

one of Stevens' trees of life. But in his w;ind S3t;vcns also

aFsociate'..fr the willow mrrage w!-. -th a church zt:.p2?, '.hicl is

m;crtio.j .ol.., and stands against the idea of physical procrea-

t-io.i The cock of morning and of life in fSteve-ns' lato

"Credencie of Suzrmner" flies to a bean pole and, :loo'-ing

across the I;sedy garden c a. former" "comnple. of' emon.ons,"

watches the "willow, motionless. / The gardc:ner's cat iJ.

dead, the gardener uone" (377). Here the li lou is used

negatively to ind.i.atc a past pr-i:cipl.e of being, no.: dead,

and contrasing sharply with the ijillou of sexual e'--rgy in

'Sund-ay lrc.ming. This latter im.ace of thwe illow provides

an e::collent example of one uwy in which S''ti.;ns: :mnthic

s:.rrbolimi i develops: throi.gh a princj.ple of coaloescenco;

her-; of w:i llo anud stoople. In a fairy tale S3even3 sent

to i..13ie, A:.r:... : 3, 1909, he ha d written:

A good yr..:-.y years ago, long before Mlbr-ouck wOent
to bec,'im a soldier, and yet not no iong ago as
the deys of Hesiod (inL fact, it is a little
uncertain when) twc pigeons sat on the roof of a
barn and looked about them at the yellow corn-
fields and r.he cows in the meadow and the church-
spire- over the hill and did nothing at. aLl. but
MIiurTmIr "C" oo-coo-Co," "Coo-coo-coo" "Coo-coo-cc.o,

T::i" il]~-l-.tration also points to u inclip;i'-jnt myrhic pat-

ic,-r. ("days of Hesiod") focused outside of time ("it is ,

l1ti.lo uncexrtai:n when") which Stevens turns to again

t* ';ouhouu his mature, ,ork and especially i-. the v.' .o-...s

of some of hi. lator poetry, such as in this eoiso-.o

in-:;.. .;i: g the cock.

Coun i. ;O"i balancingng the p:in-t,:rs--ll ;-- ir:iaery csor-

ciatsa with t)ie physical world is the palr---tre.e-like imagery

associated by Stevens with the mind's fictions. In Stevens'

mythic landscapes, the palm tree takes its place among the

image.:.- of overabundance of the South--where there is little

seascona change. Romanticizing the exotic, Crispin rakes

"the i-ost of savagery of palms" (31). But the palm has not

the phallic sharpness of the pine, and so can easily become

that "cloudy palm / Remote on heaven's hill" (68). Not only

related to the South and to the Bible, the palm has yet

another. romantic connotation: the traditional palm of

victory. The following use of the image involves all of

13 In this same poem the images of pine and tower
alno coaleaci'. See 373.

these conn-t.atio-,s sand more when the '"ora. law" ini "A

High-Toned Old Chr.istian '.Woman" (9) is projected into

"haunted heaven-,," "r.he conscienco is converted into pab.s, /

Likeo i.ndy c.itberns hankering for hymns. Expressing both

.ho poetic and religious (c.f. "palmer") romantic, the .palm

remains still a tree, too, through which the wind makes

weird, un::arThly sounds. In later poetry this palm iGree

images also iprovidos a gloss for Stevens' palm.: of' uhe hand

images (c.. 225).

Bird imagery in Harmonium is, first and most gen-

erally, imagery ci natural life, oftoe procreating in the

pines (Cof 17), In the tropics, ho-wver, birds too share in

the overabundance: "hawk and falcon, greb., toucran /l And

joy . raspberry tsnagirs in palms" (30)-- mbolizing a

physicaL world d that is too oxoti- to be the proper "scil

[of] nmn's. intelligence" (36). On the other hand, specific

kinds c'f birds begin to assuram specialized purposes in this

poetry, sometimes simply pointing to;.wrd the realm of

abstract ideas, but often serving to unite Stevens' irm-n:-

diate sc-nse of a presential world with abstraction. For

ins'.:ance, the 3sw-ans of' "Invecliv' against ~ ,;W.ns; (4) simply

represent a romaniticized attitude toward nature and life,

ass3;ociated respectively .ulth the park aCid the -statuos. The

soul can no longer fly in the- swan's chairo'ts vhon the

"crows onc-int the statues wit-h. their dirt." Unlike s"ans,

however, birds such as croi.s, gre.ckles aid blackbirds are

all oart of a world fallen from the rcmanxtic.--th6 world

ht.cLr-e leftover egg shell: sully natur,';r temple (of. L, 62).

"Tliirzten Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" (92-95) is an

instance of Stevens' use of a symbol with mythic properties

LO ex:,plore rnd express this fallcn world, which his poetry

i.. a '.:hole is continually in the act of discovering and

crc.atLir:. The poem opens:

Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

Th.o pceiu gcs' on to present a sequence of pictures, imaging

a word in '.,hih the blackbird is both perceiver and object

of percopt-io,; both within man and without--a relativistic

universe ('m.')ny circles," ix.) in state of fluc ("the river

i-. mrovinlg," xii) whui'o the only "golden birds" (vii) are

those which are imagined.

Peacocks, in contrast to the blackbirds, ax'e

romantic and vivid representatives of lifo as beauty. It is

their coming death in a sense that is announced in "Dorrina-

tion of Black." Stevens' next two portraits of peacock-like

birds are negative. In "Anecdote of the Prince of Peacocks"

(57-68), the peacock turns into a dream vision character

named "Berserk," an insane romantic on a parallel with the

equally insane modern world, "full of blocks / And blocking

steel." The "parakeeb of parakeets" in ths satiric "The

Bird with the Coppery, Keen Claws" (82) exists "amid a mort

of' tails," but "Hisi lidu are white because his eyes are

blind." The tails of peacocks have long been associated

wi .h beauty. resurrection and spiritual vision, but

Steve,;s d.Lra'. on this fund of mythic connotations largelyy ir.

ox'dcr to negate the romantic. Yet the peacock's cry iLoolf

in ".joii.ination of Black" is an image of vital imna.ed.iac. .

rc-,inder of the dimension out of which Stuvens' abstraction:.

Bird sounds echo throughout Hal-oniim- a.n all of the

subsequent poetry, but the most enduring norot is the "rou-

cou" of tho dove or pigeon--the bird uhich fIur Stev.-:ns

represents the ideal of spirit or love. In tho early

"Depresioion before Spring" (63): morning arrives "the cock

crous. / But no queen rises." His "ki-ki-ri-kL / Brings no

rou-f-co-, / ,c. rou-ccu--oou." In the t.le w:.ch Stevens wrute

for Elsie just before they were marriied, two doves (i.ith

tlhic.r coo-coo-coon) are instr-uont.al .in the origin of golden

h-i.ir and. blue eyes in a girl whom the !ain eentu.rlly

married (L, 1?2-95). But in this poem, "no queen comes / In

slipper grer-un," Just how pervasively morning, Jove and dlove

notes, sGlng with the queen, remain fuscd .n Stevens' i.nagi-

natinc i-- illustrated by his late "Song of Fi.cred Accord"

. ,9-20) This poem immediately pretodes the more major and

crucial poem, "The World Ps Meditation," a-d it is cSlear

'.hat the doveS ex-perience of the sun in the first poem i-

parallel to Penelope's in the second. The dove, too, con.

fronts the "ordinarinnss" cf- the sun, v.,hilo at tle. sasmc :i.;.

14 C., Campbell, Creative Nl.ytrholoenm pp. 01-03..

the sun is metamorphosed into the "lord of love and sooth

scrr.w" j' ho madee much within her." Fenelope experiences

the sun both a. "only day" and as Ulysses ( 20-21). The

significance of such a continuity within patterns of imagery

lies in. :'-: ffact that while they tend to build up into

abstract mythic forms (doves as spirit, queen as imagination)

they remaii;n :r.unded as well in immediate sensEation (the

.cos of doves), Bat now it need also be added that such

imag-,s .imp.Ling immediacy are seldom individ.al.zed; the

peas;ckl cry' like peacocks, the dove;. like doves, but we do

no' h.cjar the individual bird. Stevens' poet-ry is far loss

the. record of pFrosential experience than evidc-nce of a long-

-;-.. i'o2r such experience.

In much the same way that tree and bird imagei-y

amournts to mythic abstraction cgowing from the sonses, so

too, rrost of Stevens' animal and vegetable or fruit :'r.;gery

folloi-,' similar patterns--patterns which continue. shik.tirng,

regroupi.ng, and coalescing, while also building in depth

through continuity. For instance, the "i'irecat" which

beoi5n.- the Collected Poems continues to reappear in var.iouL.

shape, buc. always with fiery "b.lghit eyes" (3) implied ut

3.-a..c>)--wlcbh then deepen as symbol of dcvourinr imi'.gina-

tion, n.;.'rver satisfied. Stcvens concludes ";.;tr.chet-Lc-

Ja ~~r n: "I affirm ard then at :nini.g, Lt the great clt /

Leaps .f..Tc the fire-side ind is gone" (254). Likewi s, the

gr''s" cotin-iue to serve as reoidndors of' the mcnotlony of

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs