Native of earth

Material Information

Native of earth the growth of Wallace Stevens' "fresh spiritual"
Ackerman, Robert Dennis, 1936-
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
University of Florida
Publication Date:
Copyright Date:
Physical Description:
xii, 267 leaves : ; 28 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Birds ( jstor )
Death ( jstor )
Imagination ( jstor )
Legendary places ( jstor )
Love poetry ( jstor )
Mythological time ( jstor )
Mythology ( jstor )
Poetry ( jstor )
Seas ( jstor )
Sun ( jstor )
Dissertations, Academic -- English -- UF
English thesis Ph. D
bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Thesis - University of Florida.
Bibliography: leaves 261-267.
Additional Physical Form:
Also available on World Wide Web
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Manuscript copy.
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University of Florida
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University of Florida
Rights Management:
Copyright [name of dissertation author]. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Resource Identifier:
022055001 ( AlephBibNum )
13457969 ( OCLC )
ACY4747 ( NOTIS )


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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,. ai' t-'

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

. h ... .t b 1 "i : 1 .'. ) -..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 r.: 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 Ste vcns 1 ro:. a

,h...: 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 to 1i... 4 .. : It .a

..,coi .: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 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' :.n ;th-:r' ;..v,':- 1.siiy : ,;. ;!.. j '.

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

Sir. cTy. r'.y s "L to 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 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, 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 ; 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 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',

p;'. c .-ide, : .r, :s ns of physical im; 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.-.-: ' 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? 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 : 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. 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.;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. 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: d .c- r i' ,-art, of 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 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;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;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 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' 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,, 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 * 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. . .;,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 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 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 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,..'.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.?:;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 .. o ier.'.:a ic: to

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


Although Stcvons e:rly recogni-zd poetry s

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 :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, 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 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' 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

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;: ,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,' ,'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 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.-, 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;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:; roU.Ch.-. dLiring the

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

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 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 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 "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 in r.he "rock [which] cannot be broken" (373,

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

.b'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 ( ., : 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.; cure ouir perceptions of the

l' 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 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 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 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 (;, "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- :, 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 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. 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 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 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:: ;, .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 :;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 o .'
L-''.*.i .nr. tirz.i of t ,cbi:. :o;o, t .r. d of i al.j:in.;'.t.
t'..n; and lcon ;- .ig_ only to hia'.**. .i n -d uii r. '..
or' to be Somen;:r.j,';e irith 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 c0..
z xeX-ci.:. be.'ore ,,L. And then tbi '.r 1'1-ib) e lf-
...c-.. teflQa rion To-.-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 hi.> 1eCa ). s cf "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, 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 , 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. 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 ver; xesr--ectab-e couit.vy wnr..h,
as uual, set n'_ conter-iplatinGr. I lcve to -)walk 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..', ,_:'. "
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' 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 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 .:',;;.:; spir it
of rature--a very nyster.iour rsir.t.: I thought
never to Ihavo 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, 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 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 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, 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
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, 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 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 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 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 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

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, 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.
-: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. * 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 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, 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 ,' ,'i.!- w Y .rk:
Scribn, r-, 1 9 .), 0. 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- 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,
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-; 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

" :r..raiul. Stevens, in creating through accurate

sp'.ch 9 dia.logue 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 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 "hidden ser.nse" gradually


became a primary;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 just cormoncing to far.11 blowing frorn
tho I'orth, the direction in uwich I -wan, 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- 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. 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 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 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 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 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. 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 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 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 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 :. 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, .: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 :.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 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. that she sym:bolizes--the ",Cc-n; :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 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 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 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 i soldiers, certainly reminderss of their counter-

part.- oat the C;rucifixion, although here they are within a

cs:..xi -co;,. context. "Supposu these couriers brought amid 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.

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";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 acc.:puiii its di-rentcl.ons. Recalling that,

-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 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 hymni?' The context is, 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 ", 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 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' 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 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 ; 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

.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' 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 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, 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 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...' sec ti:.n. ': s '/ on D-r'''1 d r c& -l.ik

;" :,.lI ;,J.or: c.i '2hi, 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 ; -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 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 *" .

'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 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. 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 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--. 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`';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 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'-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 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 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'

(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

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 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';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 pronounced

in "Sunday I.orning. Though there is no question that the

comic r?!s,) , 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

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,.--. 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- 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 -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.-'; thtirigs" and

:!esubi.igous unrdulaticns" of the poems under, 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 :.**': ..- 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"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; 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, the primitive and ourselves goLE, even
d1epr. it hj.. frc-qunitly- been remark, d 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:, by the problems of trying to verbalize a

rpi.: l ;i.1 dil:i-ns.ion 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 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 To * 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'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', for instance, that primitiveo man, fr.'o: the first; 1 e

know of him, throh.i his myhs anld ri.s:o, very

aspect of his wrc.k inato a festival. ''3 "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 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' 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 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. 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 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 through an ov.~'abun ancio

. ,ounding of Maril.n li tu.g~': "]'tthcr of heaven, 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: 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

" 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

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

many ocf Stevens' poems e.c-rgeo c(;Ln be experienced in the

following images, In "Doti;:n'ti:.,n of Black, the

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 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 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 ,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 without .ma.d 'J thi.n, the

world of ph'ys :cal death ct.onfron .in" a mind \,'; r,.u::i- v ai

r-olithin (or; '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 remains frozen

within bhimse lf0

So thJc troes of lift in :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 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' 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: 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 Stevens wrute

for Elsie just before they were marriied, two doves (i.ith

tlhic.r coo-coo-coon) are .in the origin of golden 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; 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,, 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

Full Text


IJ&tivs of Eorth: The Gr-CKth of '^^cJllaco Sbcvens* -'Vrcj^h ?px:r-it-ual'' }3y 7<. D. ACKEdllM Doctor of PldloGcy-hy Univer^it.y of Flo 7:1 da 1 97 1 Dinssr cation presented to the Gi'ad-usi:© Council of ths linivcraAty or I-'Xorlaa iri. P&.y^txftl PuiriU.:nc.;n-


Copyright by B. D. Ackemian 1971


In Memory of Jerry


PilBFACS The rslationcbip between Wallace Stevens' pootr-y and his spiritual bylief hos frequently been nctod over the yoars, do/iirisnt atoms' attitudes have varied widely, but in the earlier days there ve.r. at If.act one arr>a of agreement: Steveny vjaa v: ewod aa '^x coot of the imagination and th'i sense'; standinfr over agraiwr^t the othv-^n^orldly a^n^ectn of tr?;J.lti on al boiief. In ^%^S GoivMirc. 3. Mcsnaon asked t "Jpon vjhat , , „ J s thia iraaal native order of Wallace Stevenj-; baf^od?" Ke ixnr.T'fi'r':-.? that iv v.'u.o not based on "hurnanitr-if' or on *'rol.-i [d o:i, ' but on "the di .-cciplir-.e of one viho is a c-.onnoia-soi'jr of the sousei; Riid vhw -.jiRitiwiA-. e " In 1 9.t3 "^vcr Wlrvtyri^ obsarvod x-bat "he gives us , , » the niost psrfoot laboratory of h'^doY..i->.vi to Lo found in literature. . . . Stevens is releasfvd fz-oin all the restraints of Chi'ifitifmity, . e .''"^ lOit ic-crtar^Iuji tena^.v^oy of later cribioi«-ni hoxjevor-, has bean to find icays to link—not Geparalc--'i/he level or the poetry v^itli the idea of religious beliefIn 19ij.9 J, Y. Cu;ining>ia;i y.oted that the "cenx-ral concern of ^' "The Uandyisn of Wallace Steven «, " 'J^e^iHf^l, 79 (Nov. '!92',>}; rpi;. 1^^2''VL.A5i:j-5.YJi£l?i2LilLJl:^^ ^ '•Wallaije Stevsna; Or i-ho ILrdonist's Progress,'' in On Jfiode-j^. yoeX^ (Hew York: Meridian, 1959), p. 3U. Article da'tc'd by 'JJinlTers in. postscript.


• A ('^ C-^ o Stevens' poetry . , . is a concern to be at peace with h:.. 3;.r."Ound3ngs, with bis woxOd, ar.d with himself. He rcquir. for this an experience of the togetherness of hlm.oir and Nature . . . something to satisfy the deeply ingrained^s of bis religiou. feeling. "^ ^ 1951 Roy Harvey pearca advised: "^t.^ens i. treating our problem of belief. unlike an Eliot, he has ref^.eed to move out of our culture into ano^.her and t.o seek a solution for che problem in ^he discovery of a 'usable' form of belief. Rather, he has tried to creato the object of belief rather than din.over it/=^* anolly, in 1959 ilichel BonaiAou observed: "VJhat nakos Steven, a modem poet ... is this modem conscious^ nes3 that the ar^n compensate for ow^ Iost. beJx.f,^^ Ke then added sic,.ificently. "I^der stood as the poe...c and moral principle of an ordexyroteotiag v-a s. c^u. cnao.i, ^-. •> nore tha.i a source of beautiful .hapea md color.; it boor^^nes a 'suprs:::io fiction,* =^ ..,..,.xra,^v.n . anaiogoua to the idea of god. . . ."' The prollem for oriticiom in tnis area for tbo past ^,,^ ^,../.^. >.P. been to des^cribe the "object, of belief'^ 3 i.T,.p,H;iU.;l and Mcdemit-y: WaXXaco SUvy..E/' Steven^Sf pp* 1 3'? ". ''-'« U «.r,.,T^..-.^ c:-,:.v..-is; The Life of the Xx^iaginetion, '• 5 uv-a-'-c^n^^-r•s: some Re:iations r^eU/esn Foetry end v,.inbln£,'' Cc^^Earative jAterarure, < i (-.^.t.. I .. . . V


which Stevens created, that is,, the fiction o.f the poetr7 itself. What terminology can roost fruitfully explain the level of Stevens' poetry and capturs the atmotphero peculicr to his poeria? As JajfTies Baird notes in his c-xcellent recent study, the trend of late has been to approach Stevens frcra a pbilo:-;ophical perspective. Baird goes on. to suggest limits to such on approach: "it seem.-, to mo mcr-e an imposition of the critic Ji will than an expocition of the poet at hand," KiJ ovn air;j is to htjcome a "transparency'" ;?o that t}ie ''coiriraanding design'' can be the poet's, not the critic 'a, Baird seoa Stevens'' "encompassing subjricb" as the "poet's i'ensc of the woY>lci."; his own pirrpose, then^, is to trace tha lines of the "t^tal striir-turc" of tlie pMotrj-. BiAt evoii aftor ackuowledfti.'.jg the limits oT the philociOijru. oai approach, and after illustrating the design of Stevens' s-^nst of the world, the critic still facos the problc::: of the spii'l r-ual dimension of the poetrj'. The level iUiOV-^ the poetry and the belief uiiit-.; is yst to be dcsci'ibed, rJov. is the sensory vjorld of Stevens' poetry related to hir.. belief? It is my conviction that they can be brought together only \vhen we ujiders £.m)d t)aat Stevenapoetry is fundar'iOCit^.ily ".niytbin." Baird birc^self assorts in the couvse of hli; study that for Stevoj's "the txue poeb in any a-;e is a make).of a canon, for the iraaginatioii at its hiF.hest reach. . . „ The arc of rhc canon is, then, the r>:i\i.or px^ojection of a xr.yth, o . » """ But -'li-^-?P-'i!LJ^^-'l!? J^J?.^iL^°^ (BaltirrLo:-G : Joaus Hop.kins Press, I96TD, "pp'l "iTx-x.^v, yvlir xxv, c:2'i~?..2; vi


;Ui y:s\r:.u >/ays is St3ve;aa' voi-r-e mythic j, anci just hovf la-^ the bG3.ior anci the poetry roiMied? MVmy critics lieve mentioned the my^r.ic elora-^nts o'f Stev::i;.-i ' poetry, CannliighaTr^i onc^ of Ine first, vjroto ihau Si.evens "constriioted a. seriee of .secular n^vths , ^ , that Hffyyrithe traditional rt;ligiou3 of "iobillty and unity of exporience, " brd added thet "tho tTiyths reme.'ln unconTli'jcing and arbitrary, . „ ,^'' ^ Northrop Fxye'c! cisaay o-o Sto'/eiis in 1957 demonatratod that Stovvuj..-/ poetry at; a v/hcJ,o could be seen as "m;^thic." Starting v/ith a gwne'A^'.isIy inclusive idee of myth, I^'ryo ia able to provide r-:a indij;pen.^>able r'nsight into the rolar.ioiisbip botw-^^n the r-ersorj world of the poetry and the abstract belief of th? pee te He laaintii'ins : "Potts . .-, , see indi vidart-.! and cila^G a.a jiiotapbcric'^ identical: in othsr x.ord? they work with jryths , . , . Such inyths „ « * play a lr.ri\e roj.e in 5^te\'ons• "An Ordinary Evening in Ncu Kavcn'': ir.u^'Terv. " Frye Roes oii. to qivota the follcjwJ.riK lino;:, i'rom Why , th en , i n^l ux r o who has divided the world, tvha. b ontreprensur? No jm.oii. The self, the chrysalis of all .taor ot^casio divided in i.he lei^ux's of b3.u:-day And iiiore, in branchings aftor davr One part. rleld fast tftr)ac::lou.aly in coiiiaxon eartl; Arid one frOiV.. central earth tn ooiatral ^ky And in x^.'oonli L; extensioua of them in obe mind Sop.rched out avich Mnajeaty ys it could find. ' "Tradition and Modsrixity, ' p.. 'i 3ft , v:..i


Pryo observes: "^uch poo ory ::oui'ids relif^iou?, ar.d in. fact doo3 have th'u infinite perspective or religion. , , . S>.xqi\ ImzffiSiLKO riay or ic^y not go with religious coxaraitroent : in itstjli It is simply poetry apealdng as poetr;^ xnu.'jt v/hen it 8 gets to a. certai.n pitch of metaphorical concentration.'' For FcjOy then, it in this level or of the poetry which unitea tho individual sjid the class — aiid this level is mythicc 1 believe that in tnl;. dimension of Stavsns' pOi>try can. 'oe foivcd the record of his fresh spiritual, the point of cor'.tact between his devotion to sensoi'y experience ana his spiritual btO.isf in the imagination of luan. My methocj throiigiiout this study will be to cor.ceiitrate, vrhen feasible j on Steven a' longer poeras, where •Ais mythic elements are usually laoat conspicuous. My primary air-i Ifi to trace the main line ox Steveno* spiritual devolvvment. Biit ray final purpose is to provide a pe3;'spective for appreciating the significejiCQ of the poetry; itself. Before launching into the study proper, thou-jii> X wen ito clarify further the idea of poetic niyth. Hy Introduction s-irvft3'-3 the mythic characteristics and the development of Ste-.'en.;^' poetry in ordf\r' co orrbablish a base for the detailed explorations of the subsequent chapte-:'^, ^ "Tlie Realistic Oriol?: A Study of Wallace Stevsn^j, " The Hudson Review, 10 (Aut^oimi '1957): rot, in W>0.1a(^_Jit7'voxis : A Go 1 1 o"c ti on o f _ Cr i ti c al Es says , pp. 1?', viii




Abstract of Dissertation Pre.i^ented to the Grachiate Council of tb© University of morida in Partial Fulf-vllrrKvut of the Keqairements for the Dagvee of Doctor of Philosophy NATIVE OP EARTH: THE GRCVfril 0I-' WALLACE STF.V.VIIS' "FRESH SPIRITUAL" By R» D, Ackerrruan Juiie, 1971 Chaintiaii: Gordon E. Bigelow Major Department: English Wallace Stevens proclainiG: "The greatest poverty is not to live / In a physical world," Yet his own poo try is unusually abstract; it rarely provide:^ a sense ol' iv.iraedi ato expoi'xencec 'Hie poiiiu of this study is that Soevens' p;;?;try functions primarily as myth, that is, as an abstract poetic enviroriiasnt creating the groxindt; Xov sacred experience oi a phyrical ;»'crld. It is mythic ii.i. largely t.b).'C;e ways: itis a screen of language existing between the imagination and (-;xte; realityj it roser-ibles priinitive myth i); grovdnfj out of tb.c ratur-'JL oleiucr/ts aiid in io.-i portr-nj-al of the poet as magus; it re-acnas r,ow--ij'd sxperionce of preaene£.-j &ctivv.ted by lovo a^'iLd by S6:u.-;i tivity i-o the mystery within and i,-;" t lieu t. My air.i is to set the stage on vhich Stevenf^' poetry take:-, place, aiid thon to track the: growth of Lis fresh spiritual through I'eadings of tha roajor longer po('Ws» Tncs


dimensions of Stf;venfi' stage are more than pbiJ.o.^ophical f^i::ia more than aestheclcj Ma greataesc as a poot cl^riv^w especially from his ccvuT.geoi.^.spiritual irvNr^f^rit^.^^'^ ^^-^ tho depth or his vision, Hii< spiritual dev^iop^ out c-r his faith in the iKuaedi^t-:; inomaixt^ of sensor^ expert onae over cgainst hi:s inaoriieU romaiatio xayths, ^^eligiou^ c,r !>.os.thetic. AS ho Recreates in his pooti^y these former :t'cdo;i cf poroeption, in ih^ixplace enter powerfuJ p:^esenccs of nature, fresh »i:7thi':fonr'S creatirj^^ a nev; r-icdo of pa:::'ception e The physical ear^b, however, is in JtoeJf bar..-3n. Stevens guards against inclinations to f5nd api^rlt in vhlnt^s outsiaof mind. BK-^v hrn it i. the inagination of tiaan ^rhi c^h v,pvrp-;T.s-,.rJoa«.-ilke —the source ::f tho aacrod. The earth is barren without tb^ win^^ u creative «Dirit, but xhci x:ind ^J so i« nothirxg wiohoul. the con^^ent of ea^j-th. Only by rigorously separa;:ins Kii:)d and external ro3lity can the hasis of their mouenx-i^v^s -^'iOPec! vwi^ons be wairitained, Vle-v^oa aa spi-'itua]. growth, tho stages of Stevena ' poetic d'^veloprcent ^;merge sharply^ 'Bxe story DS£xnE in hifi early letters sx:.^ jourxial ontrio^, Khich testify ^o a Berlonn spl^-o byLwy3n hifi -enn^ of spirit (for inc^tanr^e; in the chnrchs in litoratnro, ono in roraantioi^cci ciei'^eni'a t^v. nature) ;^r;4 his iiont;of reality (pii^sical nature aiid tho ecientifxc c.n(5 cori-orcial world of wen). Already evidont, •choui^fcu is his desire for acuurate sp':^ech and bis avrareney^ of the 3ttTliit^sMce of the ma^^ive forces of nature, '^.e


poetry of his first volxicie, IIarriio riiua» dccreates roraeuiticismc vrhile brixj^iiis transcendent spirit into the "fluttering things" of oartb, leaving him in a fresh and enigmatic space bounded by the frontiers of imagination and phyEicaJ. reali ty . Ideas of Order enables Stevens to more clearly differentiate these two finalities and to explore the spiritual meaning of the imagination, a theme which TheMan. with t h e Bl ue Gu itar continues. By this point, Stovenu is also sensing the importance of the spontaneous moment and of the magus poot who speaks that moment into existence, lli}£,^i of a V/orld and Not es tov; a rd a r'-^iprene Flctj.on broaden h5.2 idea of the poet further, ejralting him as hero, while Stevens imagines himself into the role of central poet, Meanv/hile, h? s decreations have continued end the natural eleifiontG have increasingly permeated hia poetry, culminating in tha great mythic poems of T:vpnfspc)r t to Sitn-jm er end A'a.vgr as of Autirrj^. Here?, both hi. s truths of summer and sorrows ol' a\iiuir/-.-i are writ large viithln a fresh spiritual environment, f-.n tho ''tbing.v"' of this world and tho city of man. Stevens' very l^h'c poems record— with tx tiurpra aing sense of personal immediacy-hi i: child-like entr&nce into this space. XI 1


INTRCDTJCTION: THd "FRESH SPIRi'^'UAL" "Itiy. a freah spiritual that he defines ..." ( "Aii Ordinary Evening 5.n Kevj Haven") For SteveniJ, the "greatest poverty is not to live / In a x^hysical v;or.ld.. . , ," Yet his own poetry rarely pro rides a Bf;nse of physical iimnediacyj instead, it is 2 fouxxded on a vast abstraction of nature. Sun, inoon, suitu>ier, Pinter^ sea, sky, wind, rain, mountain,, tree, rock,, bird--all the basic natural elements are present but •asually s.h.-rc-raotcd in en i^nagery that is remote from i/janiediate^ xJfc^i'''^i'^uli'-i''^-2 9d experience, altboupli it celebrates the spiritual potential of such experience for the imagination: The bough of svmyiev find the winter branch, These arc) the ioeasures destined for her soul, (6?) Stevens' poot;:'y v;as instruinent and product o " hj s quest Cur spiritual meaning anu for cxpevienr-.fof the sacred J but its impetus developed out of expsr-ience of the ' ^r^iL-^SiJ '''' *-.l^TS^'IiL^.Sl^l^ju^^l^ ''''' Ji'^'^ (Nov? Yori?:: Knopf., 1934"/* 'p» 3^;i3£ ?£S thi^m5^s^ ed, Saniuel French Ji^^rae (New i'o.':'kj lO^opf, Y^'y'lTr^^^^ ^'-^"'"Tft/^. 'i^P-".?-I-.i^-rL '''^'^-''~. '--''^w Roily Stevens (l^ow Xox-ivs iivIbpT, 1 9 Sb} » " " The i.:An:'cr^.ct qu::2.1v\r of Stevens' poetry has fraqi'.oritiy bOf'.n ;.iOv/ad. For instance, see J» Hillis Miller, ^^H^S^'^L^^^. }^:2'^jL/:J^. (CeiJibrii ;';,£;, Kass.: Iiarvard Univ. Press, T90C} /'^n'XjT; "is'here he dJEcusses Stevens' "univeraallising of pArt;le.u].arr; , ' lii Stevons' poet.iry one seldom finds aii imago of an individual bii'd or specific tree despite numerous representation 6 of birds and threes.


p7-o£(ji\'-j . L'xjicr-j.Gnco :!f tho sar.rei foi primitive man is gonerally uadcr stood as experience of chat which embodies the "whollyether," ultimate reality. The sacred, then, as Mircea .iliade KaintaintJ, is "saturated with being . " Stevens' eai'ly letters testify to his sense of the unreality of modii'n life arid t.ho incapacity of his Christian heritage to sacral? 7.e his sense of the physical world. The best example frojo his early poetry of his response to a profane world is "Domination of Black" (8-9). It is one of bif? fcK' early poems with a sense of personal immediacy, and the experience portrayed is a wliirl of tuirnins loaves and colorssubsumed bj the blackness of the hemlocks and the screaris of the peacocks » There is no uliimatc r^ility in the sky wnich the physical things of earth can embody. The poeo concludes : Out of the voindovj, I saw how the planets gathered Like the leaves themselves Turning in the v;ind. I sa\ij how the nigliit came, -^ Ths^__Sacred pnd_ the profane, trans. V/illard R. Tra sk ( IT ev^'Yc rliT Harp e r , "'i 959Tr~pT~T2 . ' For in'ritarcej at abci\t age tvfoncy i^tevens wrot.-j in his Journal: ''The feeling of piety is very dear to me, I ivculd sacrifice a great deal to be a Saint Augustine but modernity is so Cliica~oan, so plain, so ..inmedit votive*' (L, 32}. Three years later he added: "An old argument with me is that the true religious force in the \irorld :' s I'iot the church but the v;orld itself: the myoterlcias callings of Nature e an.d our responses'' (L,. 58). At twenty-^ six he \'ro-ue: "X wish that groves still were sacred~--or^ at least, that soi'iethiing was: that there v,'as still something free fr;\T', , c „ I grow tired of the want of faith — the instinct of fRitb" (L, 86),


Carrie titriding liko the. color of the heavy hemlocks I felt afraid. /jDCi 3; remenbersd the cry of the peacocks. The once-fixed stars are turning in the; wind, and the cry of the peacocl;3 is also the poet's response to a profane vmivarsG. Stevens fouiK^. an ausv/er to his spiritual dilemma in the x'ito of poetry. Tne unusually abstract fabric of his poet;;^ functions as a mythic screen, a living conduit betv;eon sensory v5:cpcrienco and the spiritual reservoir cf the isnagination. Here, in the environment of his elemental imagery., is the foundation of his fresh spiritual as x^rell as the sotting of his ideas. It ia this level of "poetic mytholcg^'" which is, as Northrop Prye observes, the "concrete, i;cnsational, figurative, anthropoiaorphic basis out of c which the infomrlng concepts of discursive thought oome .,''•'' In its close contact with sensory experience the spiritual cd.iii.ension of Stovens' poetr;/ points av;ay from l"Vie rea'Jiu of abstract ideas, v;hile as mythic abstraction it resembles prirrutive myth in providing a framework for iiafriediate experience, t^'i'-yo also notes the "tendency of contemporary poets ... to bo atliract&d toward myth and rFiOtaphop, laUior than tov;ard a realistic emphasis on content c 6 . , '' Elsewhere he relates this sttraction to ths ixifl;:ence of "primitive a.i^i:^ of whatever age oxy "' ''I'iev; Directions from Old, " ixi M2;th an d My tl-jn 3}a nj^ ^ ed. Henry A. Hurray (Hew York: Braziller, i9^T:'r"pt, in P^abloE of Identity (Nov; York: Plarcoux^t, Brace Pic World,


continerit, ,. . . Tho px-iin.-.tive, v.'ith its immediate conneyj.on Mxth r?2a(?;ic, expresses a directness of imaginative impact which i;-j nsivo arj.d yet oonventions.lized, spontaneous and yet preci.^e,"-^ Tlie eai'ly poem, "Ploughins on Sunday" {Z\)) , provides a si^riple illiistrstion of this primitive-like and abstract q\ ty of Stevens' poeti-y. The white cock's ta.ll Tosses in the wind. The turkey -cook' s tail Glitters in the sun. Water in the fields. The wind pours down. Ths feathers flare And bluster in the wind, Kemus. blow your horn. I I'm ploughing on Simday, riouo^xing North America. Bloi7 ;your horn I Tum-ti-tvm., Titurntvuuturn I The turkey-cock's tall Spreads to the sun. T?ie white cock's tail S-rcnms to the moon, V.'ater in the fields. The wind pours down. There is no attempt in the poem to describe sji immediate exper.L';-.nco. For exanple, Stevens does not picture a bent old mari. v;alking behind a wooden plow being pulled by a Xfime horse through the puddleo,. The "1" of the poem is plougliing Worth America, aiid not on a paroicular day in 1916, say., but 'Dwsign as a Creative Trinciple in the Arts," in Th^_H?^ddoi-! Jiarmony: iJssays in ?Ior ior of Philip V/lje el\-;rin:ht TNew'YoJ"}'. r Odyssey, l"96'i:.;^>. *^Z; Ih o "l4o cTe rn C oxx -cu r yT 'Kie V^^idden£ 196? (Toronto: Oxford Univ. Press'^ 1*967),. P. 95.


ox-j Ttie poein':> i^rxe^gevj deals in classes of things: white cock's tail, turkeyco ck ' s tail, sun, water, wind, feathors, moon, II Stevens' .inythic imagery unites the inciiv5.6.ual and the class, as Prye maintains, it does not do so in the course of the poems themselves. On the other hond^ it is conceivable that Stevens' abstract imagery gi-'O'rtS out of his own particularised experience and leads bficir into it, even chough the imraediate moments of experienceax-e not captured in the pooms,, Although this poem portrays a physical v;orld, the picture is as formalized as rituale And it is taese abstract forms of nature that loom large yn Stevens' poetry « They do not function as conscious, realistic counters bub as childlike pictures orpri^rdtivo pictographs. I believe it is this fundejnental charactoristic of the poetry which Randall Jarrell has in ifdnd v;hen he says: "At the bottom of Stevens' poetx'y there is wonderand delight, the child's or animal's or savage' s~isian' S-joy in his ovm existence. .,.."' Joining with this primitive, abstract enviromaent of the poetry to form the mythic level are Stevens' various repi^esentations of the pcot as a magus. "Ploughing on Sunday J. '• for instance, has the beat of a chant, ajid Uncle Reraus ii, an early version of the chanting magician, Steven.-i' shrananistic poet figure, however, appears more ' "The Collected Voeris of IVallacs Stevens," Tne Ygjle Review^ kl; (Sr^ring "i^'$S): rpt. in Tnc_ Achievement of~Wari.sce "sFevens, p« 187^ "


c3.£ariy In j.y.tcr poc^rj;.-, such i\s in these lineG from ''The Ka,u vrioh the Blue Gmtar"; Hs held the world upon his ncse And this~a-way he gave a His robes and symbols, ai-yi-yi-i\nd tha!;-a-way he twirled the thing. (I78) Gerald L, Briin.s has recently related this aspect of Stevens' poetry to the realm of myth, lie mji'.inteins that '"both Heidegger and. Stevens attribute to poetry an ancient, originally riythic, fimoLion. . . . The power of the poet is once more the power of Orpheus, his ability to call up as from nowhere a world in which man may dwell." But the v/orlf'' that Stevens summons is ?. figuration of the r.J.nd; it is not the world man lives In, although it constitutes a way tov;ard that world. Frye's ccirjinents on the modem v/riter's aversion to realistic content are v?ell suited to Stevens — who largely does not capture in his poefcry the sense of a particiilerlzed world. Rather, the elemental abstractions of his pcotry are lujthic to the extent that they function es a spiritual ?7;ode of perception. Philip 'Wheelvif right observes that myth is 3::(Ob a "fiction imposed upon one's blready given worlds but ts a yioj of apprehending that wox'ld."^ What dlstlnguitshos the mythic side oi Stevens' poetry from other forms of syi^.bolic ^^ "poetry as Reality: The Orjiheus Myth toid Its Modem Coionterparts, " ELH, 37 (1970), 2&5» '•^'t}®_?ir-?i:?^'a.JlP^^^^H}' rev. ed. (Bloomdngton, Ind» : Indi an a HiT v '„ F res s"," '1 ^oB^j / p . "' 50 »


activity i3 the degree to Khich it cleaves to the sensoary world arid results from en act of belief that transcends consoioUvS distinctions betwee:n subject ai^^d object. Ernst Gassiror writes: "In tho iriage myth sees a fragment of substantial reality, a part of the material world itself 4 * , [while] religion strives toward a progressively purex' spi rituali nation, " He goes on to separate these mythical and religious forms of conscioucness from aesthetic consciousness, whoss images "confess thertiselves to be illusion as opposed to the empirical reality of things . . ,"; illusion, though^ which can become "for the spirit a pure expression of itg own creative powers." Elsev;here h:: adds that in "the mythical imagination there Ih 1 alvjays iuipliad an act of belie f. " The mythic dimension of Steven r' poeti^y grows out of a faith in the immediate moment of sensory experience, and a belief that raan*r, v;ord can i£peak that moment into being. Stevens claims that a "post's words arc of things that do not exist without the wordtj" (NA, 32). At the center of Stevens' poetry is a belief in the potential interrelationship of woi-'d and thing. His ompbasl« is neither toward the spiritual pole of religious consclo'asness r-o.v tovzard the abstract illusion of the aesthetic. The expressioii of hii. own spirit is foj' Stevens finally a figuration of earth. A statement by Joseph Tb P hi 1 o s c n hy of Symbol ic F onn,".. Vol. 2: Mvthijpal '.JjbT^'u^h t, t/ra:iSo"Raip)i KariTeim U^'ew Haven; Yale 'Univ. rfe3s/''T955)=. p. 261; An Essay on Man (Hew Haven: Yale Univ. Press. 19i;i|-). Pc 73'.


8 Campbell provides a pattern for the cardinal directions of Stevens' o\s\i thought: "the most vital, raost critical fimction of a raytholcgy . , , is to foster the centering and UTifolding of the individual in integrity, in accord with h;lmself . . . his culturo o . . the laaiverse , « , and that av.'es:Ome mystery which is both beyond and v;ithin himself and 1 1 all things, ..." It is time now to trace briefly the unfolding of Stevens' poetry and thought in accord with his idea of che nobili oy of the imagination (the self), his idea of living at the center of civilized good sense (the culture), his idea of opening himself to the declaracioiis of the elements (the universe), and his constaiat orientation to the myatery within Wid without, II Although Stevens early recognised poetry as potential myth-"Poetry is the supreme fiction., laadaiiie" (59) --the physical world of his first volume of poems, l iaKron j.ini (19;^3, 1931), is as spiritually enigmatic as the "fluttering things" (16) of "Le Honccle de Men Oncle*' or the "insoluble liaup" (ij.5) of turnip in "The Comedian as the Letter 0^^ Stevens' experience of the sacred continued to depend on hi ;3 diacovery of "Bravura adequate to this great hymn" (l6)o The real drama of his poeuic development: is reflected in a '' ' '^^^ti Masks of G od; Creative Mythology (New York: Viking, I960T; pToT" /'


gradually deepening spiritual suggeiS biveness in voice foacl iraagd'y. Before experience of earth could be sacralized, the "great poem of the earth" (NA, 11+2) had bo be lender way. Tab "ring of men . , . [who] chant in orgy . . . Their boisterous devotion to the sim" (69-70) become eventually a "figui-e like Ecclesiast, / Rugged and luminous, [who] chants in the dark / A text that is an answer, although obscure" (a79). In Kai'm oni am Stevens ajnnounces his quest of "the origin and course / Of love" (18), His poetry as a whole testifies to the centrality of this pursuit, which is in fact a search for "presence^" Philip I^/lieel'.rr'ight has observed: "To kno'J someone as a. presence instead of as y. lurap of matter or set of processes, is to meet him with an open J listening, responsive attitude; it is to becoiae a Thou in the presence of his I_-hood, , . . The sense of presence may be felt tovjard i?;u'injmate objects as well, ... A presence is a mystery that claims our awe." Stevexis says that a. poe-& "is intent on what he sees and hears and the sense of the certainty of the presences about him is as nothing to the presences themselves" (OP, 19B). The fundamental d/.'ive of Stevens* poetry is tov/ard a love relationship with the physloaj. enr'oh. He strives to become a jhou. in tho presence of its I_-hood, Hi.s poetry both exalts man's • " Hetapx:ior_apri Reality (Eloo^viington, Ind, : Indians UniVo Presp. 'iVt^^;, p.''lf>3.~


10 ±ciB.i-:±n(xt''.on as divinity and deoroates^ romantic modes of perception that interfer'e with the imagination's openness to the I cX earth. Stevens asserts: "we must somehow cleanse the imagination of the romanuic" (NA, "138); the "world has been painted; most modem activity is getting rid of the paint to get at the world itself" (L, 1|02). It is in the vacftnt space left by his decraation of romantic modes of experience that the mythic elements of Stevens' poetry take root and gr-ow. All the while that Stevens' poetry decreates in order bo expose the earth finally in its "essential barrenness" (373)> the natural force.s of earth ent^r the. poetry fis abstract foiTus which structure the grounds of Stevcnr. ' oun perception 3. J. Killis Miller clairs that in Stf-.vens' poetry there is "no rich echo of nuajice and meaning from the pontic tradition, as in Eliot or Yeats, God is dead, and with hii:i died the heaven of consecrated symiX)ls coming dovm through the Christian or Platonic ages,"""'" As vre have observed, Stevens' elemental abstractions grow out of the sarLh in tho way of primitive myth; they largely do not derive frcii literary tradition. Even the poetry of -^ Borrowing from S.imono Weil. Si:evens says: "Rodern reality is a reality of decreatioix, ..." He frequently; sti'esses the positive results of neg^cions„ In this passage tho idea nf decroation is linked to tVie acknov.'ledr;.ment that modeiTi man's -'revelations are not the revelations of belief, but tho precious portents of our ovm powei's" (SA, 17li-75"), '^^i}?oots of Reality, pp. 230--3'i .


11 Haivaoniuffl is foixcdod in a pririii. tive-liko envir-oninent centered in th^ "Timeloss mother" (5) earth, who is also "Death . . o the mother of beauty" (68)., and presided over by the giaiit tree of pro creative life., "To which all birds coiae some time in their time" (1?). It is a naturalistic world ty}-jified by ravenous, "s^-dne-like rivers" (73) of cliange and inhabited by blackbirds as well as doves. The poet enters thj.s atrticsphere as the rabbi guided by the "furious star" (Hj.) of love, male consciousness responding to his woman imagination while they live through the changes of the seasons londer the influences of sun and moon, Ptank Doggott makes a firm case for the resemblance between these 1 ^ pervasive vromen figures and Ju£:^g'3 idea of the anina. •The spiritual level of Harm oni igi (tuid of all Stevens' poetry) can. be more fully appreciated in view of Jung's following cominents on the anima; "V/ith the s-vohetj^r-i of the anima we enter the realm of the gods, or rather, the realm that metaphysics has reserved for itself. Everything the anima touches becomes numinous--'uriconditional, dangerous, taboo, magical, '• The primary figures of Stevens' poetry are themselves mythic presences. They are the fcrms vhich starid '''^ ^^^JiCx^i5' FoQtry of Thought (Baltimore; Johns Hopkirt'? PreTs, 19651", ' Ch. '"til, C. Ci. Jung, T he Ar clietryyes and the Collective Un c on s c i o u a . trans. R, P. C. H\xllf'~'Ahd ed»j BorilTngen SorTe s J, "iTbr 20 (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1968), p .<:8 .


12 b-itv/een the light (the capacity and desii-^e for love) of tho imagination end tho external xiforld^ They are the basis for* pi'esential experience. In "Poem with Rhythms" (2l\.^j-L\.6) , The hand between the candle and the wall Grows large on tho viall. The mind between this light or tliat 2nd space, (This man in a room with an image of the world. That woman v/aiting for the man she loves, ) Grows large against space. . , , The mythic forms of Stevens' poetry, like the hand, raeat^ure the intensity of the liglrit within and frairie the expedience of space without. In this sense, the poet's children are altio his parents; the old man of Stevens' Inte poems is also a chi]d^ He has created the "pure perfections of parental space, / The children of a desire that is the will, ..." The child is the "iiiind, among the creatures that it makes, / The people, those by which it lives and dies" (I4.36). This mythic level of Stevens' poetry provides an environraent for experience of the sacred. For Stevens, poetry is an "art of perception" (OP, 1 91 ) . A poom can provide an atmosphere capable of altering man's immediate sense of the physical world. As Stevens says, "Anyone who has read a long poem day after day, as, for example. The F& e x^i e Qu e en e , knows iiow the poem comes to possess the reader and hov; it naturalizes hiin in its own imagination and 3.ibei\at6s him there'' (KA, 50)The nnture of a particular pot-tic atmospbei'-e is largely determinf:id, according to Stavens^ by the metaphors of tho imagination: "Poetry is a satisfying of the desire for resemblance" {l^A, 77)$


13 "Koije.?Tibla-aco in metaphor is an acoivity o£ the imagination" (NA, 73). The metaphor fm^damental to Stevens' own poetry fuses the human and the divine. "The brilliance of earth is the brilliaiice of every paradise" (NA, 77) « His poetry helps to create "the way of thinlcing by which we project the idea of God into the idea of man" (Ka, 'i^O). The mythic aspects of Stevens' poetry provide an atmosphere v;herein the iiaagination of man-God opens to allovj earth-heaven to deolars3 its presence. And it is especially this di:::iension which constitutes the spiritual thrust of the later poeti-n-,. In a letter to Henry CSiurch, who was soon to become a c].ose friendf Stevens wrote on June 1, 1939: "My own w^y oirt toward the future involves a confidence in the spiritval role of the poet" (L, 3>kO)» III The titles of Stevens' final three volumes of poetry speak for themselves: Tr ans t>o r t ^^ t o__Su-.:rae r (19'47), Tiie_ Au^orfiis of AututTin (1950), and Th e Rock (in Th o Go 1 1 e c t e_d Poems J 1 95^i ) Basically these voluracs s.ccorapiish just that: a spiritual traaspo.i't into the aviroras of a f^^esh sacred where the central symbol of the rock represents the incarnation cf imagination txnd oxtei'nal reality, Stevens' m.a,jor prose-'-written rouglily during the same period as his last three voluvao» of poetry~-also centers on the spiritual capacities of the ii-jagination.


Although Stevens claimed in "Tne Idea of Order at Key 'vesb" (193U) t}iat ''there never was a world for her [the imagination] / Except the one she sang" (130) eiid in "The Man with the Blue Guitar" (1937) that "I cannot bring a world quite rOi.)::xd" (I65)r by the time of his late poetry he cleariy felt more confidence in the elemental world susiain-'-iCl. by his own nyth, Sach confidence is reflected in his attitude toward the i^jH^p.nation. In "The Noble Rider and the Sound of Worda'" {'i^l\2)f lie declares that "the imagination give^j to everything ic touches a peculiarity, and it seems to me that the pecujiarity of the imagination is nobility . . , vrhich is our spiritual height and depth" (KA, 33-3^1-). In fact, he endows his Idea ol" nobility v^ith much the same aura of mvstei"y and power that Mircea Eliade ascooia'Ces with tbo primitive's sense of the sacred and Philip Vi/heelwright 1 '' rola.tes to the idea of presence, ' Stevens writes t "Nothj.nfj; could be more evasive and inaccessible [than nobility! . Nothing distorts itself and seeks disguise more quickly. Tiiero is a shame of disclosing it and in its dofinita presentations a horror of it" (NA., Jh.) , Stevens' response to t?ae mysterious nobility of the imagination lesds eventi'.ally to his affirmation that "God aij.d tlie imaginatloii ' 'Jj-IQ »^c^ed and, th e Profan e, pp. 9-10; ^^.!:£•P2t1^


15 1 A &.re one" (524; OP^ I78). But nonethe-leaa, the mind as God is notiiliignes& without the content of earth, and tho oarth barrenness vd.thout the mind. The act of perception remains uppermost; the iBiagination is the "necessary angel of earth « . . [through v/hose sightj you see the earth again" (14.96)0 Integrally involved with the imagination's sense cf reality ia another fundamental idea of Stevens' poetry which is raore explicitly developed in his prose. „, For Stevens, only the "central poet'' is capable of providing 1 9 "insights, into reality." ^ His "ambition is to press away from raysticiRra toward that ultit.iate good sense which we term clvilisatio:)." (HA, 115-16), Stevens' confidence in the central poc-t explains why docreation is such a crucial part of bis own poetry^ for the good sense of civilization traces back, for Stevens, especially to the seventeenth century, "a time \jhcn tho incredible suffered most at the hands of the credible" (NA, 52). The primitive-like relationship Stc;vens expor'ic;nces with nature, then, is nora primitives tic turning a;-;ay from the demands of consciousness; it is the result of dooieotions required of the centrally civilized mind. He says: "It :'cs as if we said that the end of logic, in " Cf. Baird, pp. 295-96, where he discusses and qualifies Stevens' assertion. 1 9 See Joseph H, Riddel's more detailed discussion of Stevens' idea of "central poetry." Tne CI ai r v cy a ji t K70 (Baton I^uge: Louisiana State Univ. Press, T9o577"^p» 3CJ-3I4.,


16 mathematicsphyoics, reason and imagination is all one" (NA, i;l4.)ft This, for Stevens, is "the intelligence that endures." And it endures because it is the spirit of aan creating "out of its ovn self, not out of some surroxmding rayth'^ (NA, 52-53). Stevens himself created a myth out of h3 3 oKMi imagination, facing both the demands of civilized consciousness and the declarations of the elements c Significant later develop?nents in his poetry clearly Illustrate this interrelationship between his spiritual belief in the imagiiiation and his sensory experience of reality. In ''Credences of Summer" (from Trajgsport to Sumirier , *9k7)> '^-'^e sun ("tho centre that I seek'') descends to the "final wouritain, " the traditional meeting place of man and God, earth and heaven* The imagination and external r-esTir/y becoi.';e ignited in the "rock [which] cannot be broken" (373, 375). For Stevens thi^ i!?^lLi!!?P.^_®!L?2.^^ both the ultimate abstraction and the indivisible moment of concrete exporicnc-^* It is the crux of his myth, hinged both bo the imaginaticii and the physical ijorld. J.t is no surprise, then^ that (as Helen Hennessy Vendler notes) "Credences" is th3 Ci^-'n^: long poem in which Stevens places "a lyric speaJier 20 fiii-^.ly in a laiidscape of the present moment. , . ," In stevwns' last major, longer poem, "The Rook" (525-2:8),. tho ^'barrexmess" of the rock of physical being is covez-ed by the "leaves" of man's owia consciousness, his ^^ On Extended Wi.ngs (Cfirabi'idgej^ Masa. : Harvard Ifniv.. P:-.-'es37T969TrTrT:Jl .


17 poem, as if ''nothingness containf^d & me tie:..-. ..." But Stevens does not stop bhere. "It is not enough to cover the rock with leaves. / rfe must be cured of it by & cure of the ground / or a cure of ourselves. ..." ^^ spiritual cure results when the leaves break into '^bud, " into "bloom," and bear "fruit," and man then eats of "the incipient colorings / Of their fresh culls. ..." Man's poem, man's 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 man. . . . The "illusion" (that nothingness itself "so desired") bocoraes the gate into a spiritual -physical world beyond the barrenness of the rock. Stevens' myth has been fovjided on the movements of the physical universe entering a mind creating "out of its o\m self, not out of some surrotmding myth" (SA, ^3). Stevens' leaves are of the sun itself; , . . The pearled chaplet of spring. The magnuia v;reath of summer, time's aut-umn snood. Its copy of the sim, these cover the rocko There >:ore: "They are more than, leaves that cover the barren rock. ..." Tholr colorings cure our perceptions of the physical world and make possible the experience through love of earth 'ti presence: [Tl-ie leaves] bud the whitest eye, the pallidest sprout. New senses in the engrenderings of sense. The desire to be at T>he end of distancoSi


18 The bodj quickened and the mind in root. They bloom as a man loves, as ho lives In love. They bear thsii^ fruit so that the year Ie known* • . r Tlie rock's "barrenness becomes a thousand things [immediate experiences of the sacred] / And so exists no more. ..." Stevens' fresb spiritual is gro^ui-jded in his Kiythopoeic style. Ke asserts: "I am my style , . . [and] as my poem isj so are my gods ajid so am I" (OP, 2'l0-11). His fundaroental metaphor linking earth and heaven, man and God, foiTCs the grotmds for and results from experience of earthheaven created in the mind of man-God. As ht^ nay.s: ''A celestial mode is paramount" (i|.80). But despite the fresh spiritual, or because of it, Stevens sees human experience pervaded with mystery. If the poir."c oi meeting betv/een mind and matter is the sacramental center of Stevens' spiritual, it also represents the convergence of D.nner nxid outer mystery, Ihe icon of man's poem is the evidence of a "mating and a ri^nrr-iage" (OP, 212) betvreen imagination and external reality, but these ecstatic meetings are fleeting smd ambiguous. The iiaaginatlon "can ii.©ver offectively touch the saiae thing twice in the same way." Mindcreated reality continues to change--it is "that reality of v;hich \vo never lose sight but never see solely as it Is" (C'F,. 215, 211|). In the late "The World as


19 M=?d:ltatiorj'' (520-21), Penelope awaits Ulysses, and the sun rises: But vms it Ulysses? 0;.' was it only the warn?,th of the sun On her pillow? The thought kept beating in her like her heart, Tiie t-,-:o kept beating together. It was only day. . It was Ulysses and it vjas not, . . « Desiring Ulysses' sacred presence, Penelope experiencos the "savage presence" or the siui. The marriage enlists only in the fleeting moments when Ulysses and the smi are one in the pulses of her own mind. Records of such marriages in Stevens' own experlenoo are rare in his poems. But especially in a few very late, £thort poems there are glimpses of an individualized, ey.tsrnal world no longer carrying its abstract, mythic weight,^'' By this point, Stevens and his spiritual paramour have, mom.entarily at least, composed "a dwelling in the evening air" (52Lt-). Tne imagination and external reality having been boiond together in a personal myth, Stevens' immediate experience can then become the direct cause of his poem'' s celebration. '^^' I do not waiit to imply a cessation of the fluctufltiona between irdnd and externa.! reality in Stevens' lafce v;ork. That the mystery of human perception remains mystery is essential to his f:eesh spiritual, x3ut there is an increased sense of par-ticularization and personal iimuadiacy in many of the ver'v late poem.s, in, for example, "The Herniitage at the Center, " "The River of Rivers in Connecticut," and "Reality Is ai:i Activity of the Most AugUfjT^ Imagination, "


20 Corapare to the early "Domination of BlvSick" the final poein of the Colle cted P oems , "Not Ideas about the Thing but the Thing Itself" (53i^-): At the earliest ending of vdnter, In March, a scravrny cry from outside Seemed like a sound in his mind. He loaew that he heard it, A bird's cry, at daylight or before. Til the early March wind. The sun was rising at six. No longer a battered panache above snow , . , It would ha\re been outside. It was not from the vast ventriloqtiism Of sleep's faded papier-mache . . . The sun was coming from outside. That scravmy cry--it v;as A chorister whose c preceded th;-) ohoir. It was part of the colossal sun. Surrounded by its choral rings. Still far away. It was like A new knoxiledgo of reality. The scream of the peacock in the face of blackness hau become the cry of a bird no longer terrorised. The turning loniverse of the early poem has liow been composed in choral rings. The poet hesitates to accept the experience: the ovy "Seemed like a sound in his mind." But hs believes that the cry of the birdlike the physical swi itself, is really coning to him from outside: "He knew that he heard it. „ , ." Trie wind which cauaes vertigo and fear* in Ih? early poem has become a March wind heralding spring. To say that Stevens' poetry is an act of the mind i3 misleading. The late poems, especially, record a living space that cuts between the dvialisms of abstract thought..


21 It is j.nCea?:t-blo sjid XHinecessary to argue a case for Stevena' experionce of the "thing itself" in his last poeins.'-'" V/hat matters is that his abstract myth has finiotioned as a living dialectic, sustained by and aimed at experience of otherness. By allowing iiis imagination's spiritual desire only the satisfaction of the elemental forces remaining after his o^/m decreafcionsStevens was able to open the way for the declarations of the presences of oartho These presences, encouraged by the poet's prindtivelike faith in the sense side of immediate experience, carae to constitute a living myth, a grovjing windoi-J opening outward toward the thing and im-^ard toward the source of love. The spiritual moment of immediate experience in Stevens' poetr-y perforce remains enveloped in prosontial mystery. The body of this study follows the growth of Stevens' fresh spiritual, which is, as I vdll illustrate in more detail, the development of a znodem mythic forra. In Tfioat instsxices, I try to stay close to the poems themselves, al^oing mostly at a "reading" of Stevens' poetry. Chapter II highlJ^iC3-.._the spiritual side of the concerns of Stevens' early marjhood, Ciiapter III tracos those ccncerns into his first iJoluiue of poetry, emphasising the spiritual elements 22 The following discussions are especially persuasive on tjiis point: Riddel, pp. 2"(l\.-j6; Roy Harvey pearoo. "Wallace Stevens: The Last Lesson of the Master^, " ^^^ l^^e Act of the Mind, pp. 12ii-"27; Richard A. Macksey. "The Climates of 'Wa3-lace Stevens," in The Act o f the Mind, pp. 218-21.


22 of "Lo Monocle do Hon Cncle" and "Sunday Morning*" Cl'iapt.-3i» IV explains the mythic dimension of Stevens' fu'idamental iiaagery (as seen in Harmoniurr: ) . Chapters V and VI follow the thread of his spiritual f^:oo\Jth through his transition period (requiring close readings of shorter poems), leading finally to the fonnulated assertions of "Notes toward a Supreme Fiction." The last two chapters offer detailed readings of Stevens' late lon^^er poems, which csai best be described as mythic achievement's. The afterword records his relocation in the fresh living space made possible by his myth.


CHAPTER I SAIKT AUGUSTINE AMD TH!5 MUD Op BRAZIL: EARLY LETTERS Tlie first clear indications of Stevens' struggle for spii'itual meaning and sacred experience are found in his early letters and Journal entries. Here, during a time stretching from his college days until the writing of his first major poetry, were recorded the fur;.daniontal conflict^ii that arose from the absence of a sustaining belief, Jli^i sense of a saorwd ideal was 'widely separated from his sense of the real, and the real \ms usually profaneLiterfl.tu^"^'e, art, music, and nature, es vjoll as the church, could all offe^r forras of sacred experience to the yoiong Stevens, but they were all too often distant from iraiaediato life vjith Its scientific ti>uths and commercial realities.'^ Also clearly present in these early writings is the path leading to the poetry of Harmoniim: a desire for accurate speech which gradually became linl-ced vxith the idea of poetryond. eventually with the "fluttering things" of the immediate world. Stevens sporadically entered thcughtsj pootry> and quotations in his JoiJ.r-nal mainly from 1893 to 1908« 2 For a short description of Stevens' activities daring tliis period, see Robert Buttel, \7al 1 ace St a v e n s ; 1h^ Making of Harmonium (Princeton: Princeton" Univ, Press, ""' T^oTTTpT ii-8. 23


2ii The sharp division between Stevens' sense of the spiritiral and his experience of the modern world is alreadj'" pronounced in a Journal entry for August 1, 1899 (L, 31-33). vjhon he v/as not yet twenty: "The feeling of piety is very dear to me. I would sacrifice a great d3al to be a Saint Augustine but modernity is so Chicagoanp so plain, so un^ieditative. " He goes on to associate piety vxith purity find beauty, and to express the corxflict in terras of his inner and outer worlds: I thorouglily believe that at this very moment I get none of my chief pleasures except from what is xinsulliod. The lovo of beauty exolud'is evil. A moral life is simply a purs conscience: a physical, mental and ethical source of plea^'^ure. At the same time it is an inhuman life to lead. It is a form of narrowness go far as companionship is concerned. 0ns must make concessions to others; but there i.o never a necessity of smutching inner purity. He concludes this entry, first, by accepting an enforced separation between inner integrity and an active life of the world: The only practical life of the world, as a man of the v;orld, not as a University Professor, a Retired Farmer or Citizen, a Philanthropist, a preacher, a Poet or the like, but as a bustling merchant, a money-making lav;yer, a soldier, a politician is to be if unavoidable a pseudovillain in the drama, a decent person in private life., V

forc.o bayorad him: I believe, &s imlissitatingly as I bolievo anythin.y,, in the efficacy and necessity of fact mef?ting fact--with a;x'ouad of the ideal. [, . .j" I'm completely satisfied that bobind every physical fact fchorf! is a divine fores. Don't, thereforo, look at^ facts, but tli3?c)Uj7h thorn* One of the directions that Stevens' thought was to take as ha greT-/ toward his firat majojpoetry a gradual obviatior; of this transcendent form of tine spiritual in favor of a norc^ corapleta ai".d pu2zling iriirnaner-ce-spirit not behind but in facta, and finally only iii himself, Snevcns' move from Cambridge to New York City ±n June^ 1900, aggravated the division betv;oen inner spirri ! fxxiG. mcdern ircrlcN His Journal records this reaction to the ii-xacids of the cit;y v/elcoming in the new year, 1901; "I<;oi'=je still grsat--noise id, thin noise — ^noise — noise-noise — but it seems to be subsiding." [Cmmediately following is this entry: "I was trying to say a prayer but could not" (Lj >0). Stevens responded spiritually to the profane^, Eiodo.m city largely in three ways: he took long walks in natura?' surroujrrJiDgs; he o-rcasionall^ -'^ont to cburcl'i; he road, ov went to concerts or art galleries. Out si fie hi 3 business hours, Stev^as apparently lived much to himself, often reading daring the jje^ik and taking longi, solitary walks on the vreokends. The v^eekond of August 9 and 10^ 1902 (L, i'3"5'r);> provides a view of Stevens' -^ Tb,e ellipsi.? in Drackets i<5 used by Holly Stevens to indicate raaterial onitted from the published letters.


?6 Ch Men D;';ci:,, bow my 3p5.i'^.ts sink v.'hen 1 Bia alone, hero in ny rooml TirdQ of cverj'-thing that iu old, too poor to pay for what's n-3v;--T:ir-ec'. of roc.c'injj. tii'sd of tobacco, tirsd of walking about tovm; arid lonf;ing only to hav^ frionda with tx^.-, or to be somsv;j:.cre with then: nau.-^J.atod by this terrible irp.prisoni,ient. Yes: I might put a li.;±it face Oil it and ;say it is merely a depression rising from lack of exftr-cise, bxit fz-oir. my present point of \'iu\} 1 see nothing but y terrible selfcontejinpiationl To-morrov: if the svn shines I shall go wuyf ar-ino; all day long, I must: fino. a boro.e in the couati'7f"-r!. j^D.ace to live in, noxi only to _bs in« Most of Stevens' mature poetry consists of this sarue "selfcon teinr;! a ti on, " indicatin{$ the extent to which the contemplatiov; it£-?:tf bocarae hir> r,ieans of finding "a p].Ace to live in, not only to hy^ in,." This search for a spiritual living space bs.-:?.i.r.'.o the ccntrp.l drive of his poetry, paralleling the pr5.mar'A,v desire of prjirdtivo man, vhich, Eiiade obsoives, xn '''to live as iixic.h a:-; possible in_ thi; sacred or in closo proxtiiii ty to consecr".t£:d objects^ , c ,. iZ':} i.tto?npt3 to I, r^iuiilxi. as lona a« po£?siblo ir.' a saci'ed ii'iive.vsi^ , . ,.'"^^ I'c \-!::^. to bo /'early fifty j^^^y^a \intil Stevens could \-;r;vte that h'.'i fer:6 hi? "Xntoi-loxre.ra?:)ou.i;'" had (:c:y\pof::i:i6. "a d;7ellij:g ir. t^ye evonix^;^. ai.o" {^Zk) ^ The r>c.".t day Stevens v-ont on to describe his Sunday walk ; i've hr.d a h.s.'-.dsoiae day of it and i--jr.i contentod agratn, Lc-ft tli.^ hcu:;e after bx-eakfaat and v.'ent by fi';r'ry .^..od troi.'U'y to flackensack over in -Ter.Moy. '' Tha c-acred cad the Profane, pp , 12-13,


27 From H. V walked 9^ miles on the Spring Valley read. th«n itmiles to Ridgevrood, then another mle to Hoboken nnd bacl:: towards tcm 7 miles raore to Patterson: Mh in all, & good day's .'aunt at this ti>r.'of ohe year. Qexac from Patterson to Koboicen by trolley an.d then home. In the early part of the day I saw some very respactable country wnich, RP usual, set mi contemplating. I love to vjalk along with a slight wind playinfin the trees about me and think over a thousjuid and one odds and enas. The length of the walk is typical of Ktevens' weekend ^iaunts, although, as we shall see, they are pometimos portrayed with greater romantic fervor, la this entrj, ho goes on to relato the results of the prior evening's despair and to draw a contrast between church and nature: Last night I spent an hour in the dark transept of St. ??• trick's Cathedral where I go no^/ and then ^ in my more lonely noods. An old argument with me is that the true religious fores in *.& world xs not the church but the world itse^.f : the inysterious cnilji^f^s of Nature and our responses. Ifnao iiucessfint nn;r^Xves; find, though I have only clou.dy virions of ^ cither, yet I now feel the dist,;l!.'-.ctioa tct'ifeen •r.h:.Ho then points to the church as a moans of consolation ar\d to nature a?i a source of his ovm sense of spirit: The priest in me worshipped one God at one shrine; the poet another God at onother shriuo. The priest worshipoed Mercy and Love; the poet. Beauty and Might, In' the shadows of ths ohui*ch 1 couid hear the prayers of rr.-;n imd v.onen; in the .shaacws. of the trees nothing hiiiv.i-n >aingled vjith Divinity. A3 I sat dreaming with r..ho Congregation I fplf' how the glittering altar -.worked on my .senses stimulating a:ad consoling them; and as 1 went traiuping through the fields aiid woods I beheld ©vory leaf and blade of grass revealing or rather betokening the Invisible,


23 Thiu tendency to see the church as a social institution and R consolation persisted throughout Stevens' lil'e, Poi'instance, contrasting this idea of the church to the problem of Gcd or spirit, he wrote to ffi. Simons, January 9, 19i|0: The strength of the church gcov/s less and less until the church stands for little morethan propriety, ... I ought to say that it is a habit of mind with me to be thinking of some substitute for religion. I don't necessarily mean some substitute for the church, because no one believes in the church as an institution more than I do. My trouble, and the trouble of a great many people, is the loss of belief in tlie sort of God in Whom we were all brought up to believe, (L, 3^4-8) The Christian myth remained for Stevens throughout his life primarily a point of contrast to his own spiritual position. Stevens' response at this time to the spirit in nature is crucial,for_oui\ investigation of his fresh spiritual. His major poetry developed cut of h.1 s rejection of this early desire to romanticize nature. His mature accomplishment resulted from his attempt to discover or create c-xx abode of the spirit that was both credible end eqxiivalent to the God of the church of his youth and the God oi" nature of his early manhood. More and more his focus came to contsr on the xaystery of human perception and on the necessity of cleansing man' s sight. At this stage, during his tv:ejities, his sense of the sacred largely remained associated with the spirit revealed in nature and in his books. Only gradually did ills concerii for accurate speech combine v;ith his idea of perceptioTi to unite at last in a recognition of pootry as a '•neens of redemption" (OP, 160),


?. (.1 During theas pre-marriage days, Stovens repeatedly responded in his Journal with fervor to the divine spirit which he felt within and beyond nature. The following description testifies nob only to the division between Stevens' sense of this mysteriou.o spirit and iiia reaction to the modem city, but also to the demands of his own imagination, which here enforces itself momentarily on the ii.iiftediate world, the park in the evening: The park was deserted yet I felt royal^in my empty palace. A dozen cr more stars were aV.dnii-ig. Leaving the tower and parapets I wandered about in amaze of paths some of which led to an invisible cave. By this time it was dark and I stuuibled about over little bridges that ci-oeked under r.y step, up hills, and through trees. An oxil hooted. T stopped and suddenly felt the mysterious spirit of rature--a very mysteriour spiritj one I^ thought neve-^ to have met vjith a?.:ain. I breaT;hed in the air and shook off the lethai-'c.y th.-.t :?ad controlled me for so long a time. But ray Arioi-ow:i stopped hooting & the spirit slipped ai;ay aaa left me looking wj bh amusement at the extremely unj^ysterious and not at all spiritual hotels and apartment houses that were lined tip like cV^gfmt factories on the West side of the Park. I crossed to Eighth-ave., ai.»d in a short time retui-ned to the house. (L> 50) This description of the park reads like a msdioval romance with its woods e-nd grottoes. For our view of Steven?., the passage serves especially to underscore the problex.. of a modem romanticizer of nature who must confront a city world of "elegjii^t factories." Stevens' response to nature at this time has in it both a sense of the beautiful and of the mysteriou.-? and sublime, but either way it is us\ially presented ixdth a background of the profane ss\t ugly, everyday .world. Note the


30 follov.'ing respoMBe to the sacred arrival of nature's spring set in sharp contrast to his revulsion to the profane city world of man: Extx'aordinarily brilliant day, A day for violftt and verwilion, for yellov; and va-iite-"and everything of silk. Au con traire» people looked like the very devil. Men vTho'd oeen baking a drop of the As tor House Monongahela now and then through the winter, or else had been calling in at Proctor's for an olive or a fishball before starting up town, looked like blotchy, bloodleos, yes, and bloated — toads; and many a good, honest woman. had a snout like a swan. And this on a day v/hen the rainbows danced in the basin in Union Square 1 Spring is something of a Circe, after all. It takes a lot of good blood to show on a day like this. Everybody's clothes looked intolerably old and beggarly. The streets were vile with dust. Personally, I felt quite up to the mark; yesterday, I v/alked a score of miles slougliing off a pound at every mile (it seemed). There were any number of blue birds afield — even the horizons, ai'ter a time, seemed like blue wings flitting do\m. the round sides of the vjorld. Later in the satue entry, after seeing a man from a romantic distance, he can describe him as "a wily shad-fisher excelsior to his goats," At this stage in his development, the external profane becomes sacred for Stevens largely to the extent that it becomes the "wholly other, " a v:orld beyond the present ugly realities of time and space* He concludes this entry: "No doubt, if it had been a bit nearer sviiiset, the particular hills I gazed at so long would have been very much like the stops to the Throne, And Blake's angels would have been there with their 'Holy, lioly. Holy'" (L, 70-7"! ). But the difficulty that Stevens increasingly recognized was that the imagination, fsequestered in its


31 never-nevsr-land of a natur-e seen only in its boauty and sublimity, was always sub.iect to the encroacljmento of the profane immediate world and to the strictures of its own desire for a more realistic truth. Note the sudden Interruption of the profane in the follo'.ving description: k I tripped it through rainy woods yesterday afternoon. . . . Spirits seemed everywhere-stalking in the infernal forest. The wet sieop of leaves glittered like plates of steel; night-birds made thin noises; tree-frogs seemed conspiring; ex\ owl chilled the clarrjay silence. But pooh I I discovered egg-shells-sure sign of a irian k his \dfe & a child or two, loafing in my temple. How fine, though, was the iiystex^ of ^ ^ everything e:xcept the damn egg-shells! (L, 61 -o2; Longing for sacred groves, Stevens can only more and more feel the inadequacy of his poetic response to the spii'it of nature in the face of the dcmandjjig realities of the immediate world: "I wish tha-c groves still we£e, sacred— -or, at least, that something was: that there vjas still something free from doubt, that day unto day still uttered speech, arid night xmbo night still shovJed wisdom. I grow tired of the v^anti of faith--the instinct of fslth." And then the casual but anticipaxory desire—"It would bo much nicer to have things definite—both huxaan aad divine'' (L, 86-87). Over three years later, in a letter to his wifetobe, Eii-'is Moll, Stevens confronted more fully this problem of the h-uiuan. and the divine: I dropped into St. John's chapel an hour before the service and sat in the last pew and looked aroimd. It happens that last night at the Library I read a 3.ifo of Jesus eaid I was


32 interejited to see v/hat sjinbols of that lite appeared in the chapel, I thinii there viero none ab all excepting the gold cress on the altur. Ivhen you compare that poverty with the wealth of symbols, of rerierabrances, that were created and revered in times past, you appreciate the change that haa come over the church. The church should bo more ohan a moral institution, if it is to have the influence that it should have. The apace, the gloom, the quiet mystify and entrance the spirit. But that is not enough. --And one turns from this chapel to those built hj men \iho fait the v/onder of the life and death of J'esus — temples full of sacred images, fiill of the air of love holiness--tabemacles hallov/ed by worship that sprang from the noble depths of men familiar with Gethsemane, familiar vjith Jerusalem, Apparently struck mostly by the actual life of Christ, Stevens comjiionts: "1 do wonder that the church is so largely a relic. Its vitality depended on its association with Palestine, so to speak," Already here in embryo Stevens was expressing primary elements of his later spiritual, iii 'Which eventually the hujuan God of imagination was to stand before the ultimate mystery of life itself. He goes on : Reading the life of Jesus, too, makes one the separate idea of God. Before to-day I do not think I have ever realized that God v^as distinct from Jesus, It enlarges the matter almost beyond comprehension. People doubt the existence of J6sus--at least, they doubt incidents of his life, such as, say, the Ascension into Heaven after his death. But I do not understand that they deny God. I think everyono admits that in some form or other. — The thouidit makes the v;orld sweeter-even if God be no more than the mystorj" of Life. Later in the saitie letter, Stevens added to the wonder of human life and the ultimate mysteicy the third member of his trinity: ''X feel . ,. , the overwhelming necessity of


thitiking vjell, speeMng well" (j.., 1 39-ii-'' ) < Only as his desire for poetry became purely the desire for accurate speech, not infuaed with the longing for a romantic vrorld dissociated from the immediate one, could Stevens' aesthetic become his spiritual. Over thirty-five years later this embryonic awareness of huiaan wonder and ultimate mystery x^ed to sccui'ate speech will bear fru;lt in Stevens' monumental poetic realization of the rock of being: It is the rock of summer, the extreme, A mountain liaiiinous half way in bloom And then half way in the extreme st iiglit Of sapphires flashing from the central sky. As if tv7elve princes sat before a king. (375) Stevens' desi5.'e for accurate speech increases aK his attention tuj^ied from the search for spirit within nature to the sense of spirit 'i^ithin self. But althougii this despiritualizing of nature could enable hira to see tho earth less romantically, it could also leave him without ary sense of spirit at all, Stevens' letters aiid Journal entries froyi his pre-marriage days record pain ar^d confusion as v.'ell as positive grov/th. One of his main dilemmas continued to V^e his sense of the gulf between art and imraedlate life. On July /.'., 1900, he wrote in his Journal: "Perish all sonnets. ... Sonnets have their place . , . but they can altio be found tremendously out of place: in real life vfhere things are quick, uriaccouatablo, responsive" (L^ i+S). In its most extreme foiin -cho tension betv;een life and art was for him the conflict between scientific reduction and romantic


31+ escapoc On Ssptember 1^, 190ii, St&vons entered xn hia Journal : Tc-day while thinking over organic lav.fs etc. the idea of the German "Organismus" crept into my thoughts --and as I was lunching on Frankfurters & sauerkraut, I felt quite the philosopher. Wonderfully scientific & clear idea — Xihis organ! snms one. Yes: and if I wero a raaterlalist I might value it. But only last night I was lanientT.n£ that the fairies were things of the past. The organ! smus is tr-uck — give me the fairies, the Cloud-Gatherer, the Prince of Peace, the Kirror of Virtue — and a pleasant road to think of them on, and a starry night to be vdth them. (L, 60) The result of conflicts such as these, centering in the unreality of ai't and the moaninglessness of co^nrconplace reality, is at times disillusionment and despai'r. Stevens' Journal v^ntry for April 30, 1905, records a sense of Gpi^itVial vacuum: I feel a loathing (large & vaguel), for things as they arej and thiG is the result of a pretty thorough disillusionment. Yet this is an ordinary mood vjith me in town in the Spring time. I say to myself that there is nothing good in the world except physical well-being. All the rest is philosophical compromise. Last Sunday, at home, I took communion. It was from the Tvoj-n, the sentimental, the diseased, the priggish aiid the ignorant that "Gloria in excolsisi" came. Love is consolation. Nature is consolation. Friendship, V/ork, Phantasy are all consolation. (L, 82} Even after acknowledging the element of self-conscious cynicism in this passage, one senses so^^athing of the controlled despair vrhich showed up later in such poems as "Domination of Black" and "The Snow Man." The way out of the despair began even in these early records to follow the path that vjouid re?.iain th^i basic one


35 ixliio for the raature Stevens. Iiraaediately followini^ tha previous entry, Stevens wrote: "If I were tc have riy will I should live wi»-.h many spirits, , . , I should live with Mary Stuart, Marie Antoinette, George Rand, Carlyle, Sappho, Lincoln, Plato, Hav/thoi-ne, Goetiio and the like" (L, 82), Crie path out of despair Involved for Stevens a sensitj.vity to the "spirits" of the past. But the note of r-orao.ntic escape into the past had to be qualified by a fresh sense of the present before it could offer a valid roate out of the spiritual vacuum. Stevens' feeling for bhe iirjmQd5.ate forces of nature, plus his sense of his o^-m spirit (partly an irxheritance from those sp.^vits of the past), led in the sarae direction that his desire for accurate {speech and for a sense of divinity were also leading hiin-'-all strands together fonuing a spiritual road into the future-. The follov?ing Journal entry offers the raoct important early evidence of Stevens' awareness of the sheer force of si?.Q and power of the natural eleraents. Bo^ond the need for r-omanticizing, such forces were due to play important parts in Stevens' future role of poet of earth. I thought, on the train, how utterly we have forsaken the Earth, in the sense of excludina; it from our thoughts , There are but fex%' who consider Its physical hugeness, its rough enonnity. It is still a disparate monstrosity, full of solitudes & barrens & wilds. It still dwarfs &: terrifies & crushes. The rivers still roar, the mountains still crash, the winds still shatter. Man is an affair of cities. His gardens & orchards & fields are mere scrapings, Socxehow, hov/ever^, be has managed to shut out the face of the giant from his windovjs. But the giant is there, nevertheless. And it is a properquestion, whethsr or not the


36 Lilliputij-^ns have ti<-^fi i'.im dov/n. Thore are. his huge legs, Africa & South Ariorica, still, apparently, free: and the rest of hini is pretty tougii and unha::idy. But, as I say, we do iiot think of this, 'E.ievQ v/as a girl on the train ^v^ith a face like the uuder-side of a laoonfish. Her talk v;as of dances & mbn« For her, Sahara had no sand; Brazil, no riud. (L, 73) Such an idea of earth, seen without roxnantic trappings, seemed to provide Stevens v/ith a frerh context within which he could more fully conceive of his ovti creative spirit. In a letter advising his future wife to join the church, he went on to observe: "I am not in the least religious. The sun clears my spirit, if I may say that, and an occasional sight of the sea, and thinking of blue valleys, and the odor of the earth, and maiay things. Such things laoke a God of a raan; but a chapol makes a man of him. Churches are huxrian" (L, 96}. A sense of the elemental forces of nature combined V7ith &X1 awareness of his ovm God-like creative capacity invigorated Stevens' cojiceni with his interior life, as a perceiving and expressing spirit. From here on, Stevens' view of the immensity and mystery of the earth and his view of the spiritual efficacy of the mind of man grew together side by side. At this same time, approaching age thirty, still presumably prior to the writirig of his first m.ajor poetry, Stevens began to try to express to Elsie a fresh conception of the huinan mind along with a new belief in man's nobility. It is music that, awakens him to the archetjrpal depth of


37 ir-ental responses: V/hat is the mysterdoua effect of rausic, the vagus effect I've feel when v^e hear music, without ever defining it? . . It is considered that music, stirring somefching within us, stirs the Memory. I do not mean our personal Memory — the memory of our twenty years and more--b\it our inherited Memory, the Memory we have derived from those \%'ho lived before us in our oxm race, and in other races., illimitable, in vmich we resume the whole past life of the world, all the emotions, passions, experiences of the millions and millions of men . and women now dead, whose lives have insensibly passed into our own, and compose them, — -It is a Mem.ory deep in the mind, v;ithout im,ages, so vague that only the vagueness of Music, touching it subtly, vfLguely awakens, until 'it remembers its august abodes, An.d murmurs as the ocean mumiurs there,' This association of the racial unconscious with mu.sic helps to e>:X'lain the prevalence of musical effects in Stevens' poetry. Elizabeth Drew relates T, S. Eliot's concern with the. '"-auditory imagination" tc the "mythical iuethod of grasping experience."^ For Stevens, music can ca.ll forth the archaic self within, which is a primary task for all myths* In this lettev he vrent on to maintain: "great music" agitates "to fathomless depths, the mystery of the past within us." . . . An.d again^ that at the sound of Music, each of us feels that "there answers v/ithin him, out of the Sea of Death anu y;>.l rth, some eddying inxmeasurable of an.cient picacnjre aiid pain.." — vaiile I had always Imown of -'-' T, S. EI lot: The Design of His Peg try (New York: Scribner « s, 1 9^977 p,~^0. Com-ienting on a paragraph fi'ora Eliot's essay, "Tne Music of Poetry," she writes: ''The keyword in that passage, is that the auditory imagination fase_s; (iiid as we h?-ve seen, it is the experience of di. vision arid multiplicity reduced to unity, which is the essence of the symbolic or mythical method of grasping experience." Of. Stovexiscomments on the sounds of the lettor C in "The Comedian" (L, 291+ ).


33 thip. infiuito exteiiDiou of personality, jio thing has ever made it so striking as tliis application of Music to it. . . . (L, I36) VQiereas Stevens had been concerned previously i^ith the roaaantic notion of the "divino force" and "responsive" spirit in the physical world, he now began to dwell more often on the "innumerable responsive spirits within" (L, 32, U2* 136). In "Peter Q.uince at the Clavier" (89-92), same attitudes help to form one of the earliest spiritual thrusts of Stevens' poetry. In that poem, he comes to see that the capacity of the mind to respond to the music of phyrfical being, v;ithout trying to turn it into the romantic "wholly other,'' offers a mode of spiritual validation both to the mind and to physical beauty. Just as my fingers on these keys Make music, so the selfsame soiinds On my spirit mal^e a music, too. Music is feeling, then, net sound. ... First, the importance of the mind's response is affirmed. 'fhenj physical beauty is seen to be the proper source of man's celebration; Beauty is momentary in the mind-~ Tlie fitful tracing of a portal; But in the flesh it is immortal, . , . [Susanna's music] plays On the clear viol of her memory, And m.akes a constant sacrament of praise. The wind becomes the musical instrument on which the music of Susanna's physical beauty is sacralized.


39 Lesa than a vreek after the previoiAS letter, Stt-v^^ns wx'ote again, recording o new belief in man's nobilityj^ ono that enabled hira to begin a resolution of the problera posed by scientific reduction. , , , I have lately had a siAdden conception of tho time nobility of men and x-joraen. It is well enough to say that they v;alk like chickens^ or look like monkeys J except when they are fat and look like hippopotamuses. But the zoological point of view is not a happy one; and merely from the desire to think v-ell of men and v/omen I have suddenly seen the very elementary truth (vfhich I had never seen before) that their nobility does not lie irr~what they look like but in vzhat they endure and in the manner in vihich they endure it. Stevens, sigr.ificantly, goes on to relate his nev: sense of nobility to the problem of a world of t^ppcaranccs and a life lived in the mind, a tack anticipating t}ie extent to which his fuli;^ developed idea of nobijity would be associated with the imagination's capacity to provide insights into reality. Here, though, he simply observes: Ever'7;bod3except a child appreciates that "things are not vhat they seem"; and the result of disillusion iiight be fatal to cotitent, if it vjere not for courage, good-viHl, end the like. The mind is the Arena of Life. Men and women must be judged, to be judged truly, by the valor of their spirits, by their conquest of the natural being, and by their victories in philosophy, ~-I feel as if I had made a long step in advance. Significant, too, is the fact that in this letter, containing the earliest exposition of his idea of nobility^ Stevens first avov/ed the central! t:/ of the mind --"The mind is tJio Arena of Life"~~and then turned to the external world


ko MXhh a r'ine\

believe that tho veil he had created was a "copy of the si.m'' (527). Thei»e aro only & Tew explicit indications in these pre-marriage records of the Vinique mode of Stevens' future poetry, poetry which so often grows out of a dialogue between Stevens' male consciousness and his interior queen and paramour, his imagination. Although we have noted early exajoples of his fluctuation betv/oen the dimensions of the mind and the external world, the Journal entries and his ear3.y letters to Elsie al.-'o point to the special meditative teclmique that becomes his means of reshaping his response to the physical world. In reaching the sta^e of his first important poetry, tv.'o elements of hia thought began to altor: he ceased to think of his readi.npj as romantic escape frora dreariness and started to see it more as related to his immediate experience; and ho bega.n to thiiilc of his interior depth more personally as another self, associated both with his image of Elsie and hia sense of his own Ai'iel sx^lri to iimong the excerpts of Stevens' letters to Elsie for the years ') 905-06 is this one ooncer-ning the interior spirit: "Lifo seems glorious for e. while, then it seems poisonous. But you must nover lose faith in it, it i.-j glorious after f.ll. Only you must find the gloi--y for yourself, Dd not look for it either, except in yourself; in the secret places of your epirit and in all your hidden oensas" (L, 85). Awakening thono "hidden senses" gradually


k2 bec&rao a primary concern for .Stevens, creating the grounds for a true dialectf.cbetwsen imagination and external reality. Central to the dialectic was Stevens' growing ax^areness of the importance of accurate speech and of the world of his readings (early instances of hi? idea of a civilized main-stream) . Stevens' letter to Elsie on J^-auary ^1, 1909, illustrates his constant shifting between interior and reality, along with his sense of the centrality of reading and clear expression. Ke began bj describing two receiit, exhilarating experiences in the park, leading to the follov;ir.g: The &now was just commencing to fa],!? blowing from the Korth, the direction in ;/hich I v/as going, so tho.t my cheeks were, shortly, coaced with ice--or so they fe].t. — It would be vei'y agi^eeable to me to spend a month in the woods getting myself trim. , , . There is as much delight in the body as in anything in the world and it leaps for us3c Then he turns abruptly to the .subject of his recent reading: It was balm to me to read and to read quickly. I have such difficulty viith Maeterlinck. He distr>?.cts by his rhetoric. Indeed, philosophy, which ought to be pure intellect, has seldom, if ever^ been so among moderns. V/e color our language, and Truth being white, becomes blotched in transmission. From this expression of the importance of pui'e speech, he goes on to discuss Foe, the mind, and stagnating routine: Nowadays, when so many people no longerbelieve in supam.atui'al things, they find a substitute in the st.ranger and more freakish phenomena of the mind-hallucinations, mystei'ies and the like. Hence the revival of Foe. . . . Foe illustrates, too, the effect of stimulus, when I complain of the "barene>^s" — I .have in mind, very often, the effect of orde'c* and regularity, the effect of moving in a groove, VJe all ci'j for life. It is not to be


found in i'ailr' to an. offlcs and then railroading backc , , , Biit i t is obviously rrore eliciting to be Poe than to be a Issser"^sq-iure." You see the effect of the railroadlRg in my letters: the refiecticsn of so raaiiy vjalis, the effect of moving in a groove. The subject of utiliealthy regularity leads directly to the importance of books and of his ovm interior spirit"~both of v.'hich are aeon to revitalize experience: But books make up. Thoy shatter the groove, as far as the mind is concerned. They are like so m.any fantastic lights filling plain da^'knes3 vdth strange colors. ... I like to v/rito moat when the young Ariel sits, as you icnovr hov/^ at the head of my pen and whispers to me^-many things; for I like his fancies, and his occasional music. Immediately follov;ing this reference to his Ariel j;piri-:-t Stevens broaches a central problem of his major poetry; "One's last concern on a January ni^^xt 1-3 the real worlds when that happens 1:0 oe a limited on3--unloss, of course^ it is a.'i beautiful and as brilliant as the Park wa,s this afternoon" (L, 122-23), In the future^ his poetry v.'as to be nis way of relating the real v.'orld to his book world and his Ariel spirit, so that the real world would no longer be a limited one but lit by the light of imagination: "Arranging, deepening, enchanting night" (I30), A few months later, Stevens followed the same pattern in axiother letter to Elsie. After describing vivid experiences of the extemQl v,'orld--a?i art show, a church, clouds---he concluded: "I wish I could .vpond the whole season out of doors, walking by day, reading and studying in the evenings. I feel a tremendoua capacity for enjoying


kh. that kind of liTe. ..." Thcr: just as he begins to coriplaln about being "compelled -uho common lot," he z^emind 3 hi3>i ?. e 1 1' : So luany lives have been lived — the V;"orld is no longer duJ.l--nor would not be 3ven if nothing nev; at all ever happened^ It vfould be enough to exarai:rie the record already made, by so many races, in such varied spaces. — Forhaps, it is best, too, that one should have only glimpses of reality "-and get the rest from -ohe fairy-tales, from pictures, and music, and books, — V^' chief objection to town-life is the commonness of the life. Such nuDibers of men degrade Man. The teeming streets make Man a nuisance--a vulgarity, and it is impossible to see his dignity. I feel, nevertheless, the overwhelming necessity of thinking well, speaking well. More and more, man's artistic creation c&me to be seen by Stevens as the link betv;een the xaental world and the external one, and man's art became associated with "thinking well, speaking well" (jj, 1i^.1 ). Stevens' envisioning of an interior paramour to respond to his Ariel spirit was the final step leading to his first ImporfcfUit poetxT-, Stevens' need to experience a sacred external world v/as just one side of his primary problem. The other side was his need for communion with his ov.Ti interior depth, The gradual incarnation of his v/oman spirit enabled him to establisli a dialogue between interior self and phyrj cal world,, No tradii^ional muse and no Beatrice, she nonetheless became the objectification of Stevens' own aspii'ing love, "a kind of sister of the Minotaur" (i^A, 52), It is she whom Stevens v;ould attempt to put into a spiritual relationship ^^ith earth, so that experience


h$ of fjarth at. last would require neither resignation to a luajp of fr!,atter nor romantic escape ri'om the mud of Brazil, On ths most iirjraediate level, Stevens' woraan figure is simply exalted good company on his solitary qvisst,, Stevens' first portrait of his spiritual love is both romantic ej-id touching. Prom his Journal, April 27, 1906: Clear ak^\ The tiJilight subtly mediaGval-~pr-e" Copornican. A few nights ago I saw the? rim of ths moon, and the v;hole black moon behind, just visible.' 'Ihe larger stars were like flares. One would have lilred to walk about with some t^ueen discussing woves and caverns, like a noble warrior speaking of trifles to a noble lady. The imagination is quite satisfied with definite objects, if thoy be lofty and beautiful enough. It is chiofl.y in dingy attics that one drecms of violet oi tie-.? --and so on. So if T had had that noble lady, I should have been content, " The absence of her made the stealthy shadcv:s dingy, atticy'-incompJote. (L, 91) SCevsns' v.'ov.ian figure vras to remain throughout much of his poetry associated with the night, the moon, and stars (especially Venus), His letters to Elsie indicate that she herself was the next image associated by him with his im.agination» On January 12, 1909, he opened hie letter to hsr: To-night you must come to no serious purpose-como as Bo-Poep"-(I do not say it boldly,) -Imagine my page to be as white as the white sheet thoy use for magic-lantern fehows-^and suddenly see your changeful se].f apoesr there in the r5bbons and flowers of the damsel that lost her sheop, I point and say (not at all f am: 1iarly)-.-"raa chere Bo 1 " And you vanish. — But it really isn't so frightful v;hsn I say it again, and perhaps you would not always vanish. (L, 118) The manner in which he siintnions her presence bofore him, even here in a com.ic vein, anticipates the way in vihich the i-.x-man


46 figure is addressed in many o.+^ his poems-. In fact, a r-.u.'i;b?.r' of Stevens' first (post-Harvard) published poems were written for El'-ie. But, as we will soe, already in Har monium, the woman presence is a pervasive one and v;as not to be confined in. a single figure. 6 Stevens vrcote two groups of poemsi for Elsie, each of which ho collected in the years 1 908 and 1909 under the title "June Book, " Six of these poems appeared in Trend in 19H. See Buttel, pp. kQ-k^» ^9n.


GHAFTER II "THE MULES THAT ANGELS RIDE" J HAruViOKIIM The poetry of Harr-onimi developed out of ths need to live spiritually in a physical world.. Stevens bears witness to tho fcdliire of the iXimoiitic iraagiiiacioii that would i2rjifj living experience through a belief in tranacendont spirit or thz'ougVi a souse of spirit outside the nind within natiire. That which X'amain.'^ after this loss of faith 5n either form of s-piritual life is the double sense that imagination creates 'wie world that it lives in and that the fluttering things of iiatnre declare their o\^n pr8SQnce--a condition which results in an unstable fluctuation between a bodiless but spiritually efficacious consciousness I'nd a profane but physical oxtemal universe. The poems of Harraqnim-n are largely gi^;en over, first, to decreating roraaiiticisms thf^:.t would reso'lvo the living duality on bases no longer acceptable to Stevens, and, then, to exploring the two frontiers^ the domains of the imagination and physical reality, Stevens* exploration in Harmoni u:u hvA c-hroughout his poetry tnkes place on substantially tvjo levels: that of analytic discourse^ resulting in the meditative cast of his kl


poetry J and that of raythic figuration, imagery v»iicn both sustains the discourse and servos as the cutting edge cf the exploration, Tiiis second level makes up the presential diinension of Stevexas* poetry because it exi3ts at the confluence of his experience of a physical world and of his own imagi'nationc oven in Hariiionium these interior presences begin i:o compose a mythic structure facing tov.'ard external presonce, while at the same time the philosophic meditation fluctuates in its emphasis between the realias of imagination and physical reality. Following his )aarriage in 1909, Stevens' Joui'nal entries largely cease, and even his letters to his wife in the ensu-ing period show a less pronouiicf;d concern with Dxe elementi; of his fresh spiritual. It is mainly to the poetry that v.'e must turn to pick up the thread of the quest. In 19'!Jj-, Stevens began publishing his poetry for the first time since his undergraduate days, and in September, 1923, published his first collection in liarmonivgn . The two most important poems in HarmonixAra for reflecting Stevens' spiritual evolution are "Le Monocle de Mon Oncle" and "Sunday Morning." Not only are the poems similar in style and content, they also trace parallel spiritual steps And poinii in the sanio direction to^ifard Stevens' future development. Although "?aaday Morning" The standard discussion of .Stevens' meditative style is Louis L. Martz„ The Poem of t he Min d (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1969), chs. ID and Ti~,


k9 first appeared in prinb three year's prior to "Le Monocle," I wish to turn to the latter poem first largely because it ties in closely with the last picture of Stevens we savj in 2 the early leoters. II "Le Monocle de Mon Oncle" (13-18) confronts the problem of the survival of imagination and love in a world of ohsnge and decay. It is Stevens' address as a raaji of forty and "past meridian" to his imagination, whose desire for transcendent love appears to conflict with the poet's nat-m\al world. The poem concei-ns a fall, both from a sense of uimeless uir,. ty with nature sustained by b sexually oriented imaginationand from romantic ideas of heavenly or earthly transcendence, the "starry connaissarice" cr the "coif r ar e s of Ba th . " The openin/r section recounts first the poet's m.ocking of his iwasination' s pretensions to sovereignty, having addressed her: "Mother of heaven, regina of the clouds, sceptre of the s\m, crown of the moon. There is not nothing, no, no, never nothing. Like the clashed edges of tv;o words that kill." '^ Stevens, of course, arranged "Le Monocle" ahead of "S\a7day Morning" in both llarraonipm and the Qollected Poemsg Also, there is reason to 'believe fhat a short manuscript poem, "Dolls," itself a progenitor of "Le Monocle," was written about a year before the publication of "Sunday Morning,'' See Buttol, pp. 185-86.


r.'n Stirely the opiening addross recal3.s Maritii?. liturgy — "Motho:" o.f God" and "Kegina of Rome "--but its overall purport develcpa out of the contrast b&tween maaningless words vriiich do not kill and freshly realized words that do kill. It is Stevens' old conflict again between tha imagination as rorrjaritic qui^en and the destructive pov.'erof Itinguage associated v^ith th« immediate v/orld (science, business, inodorrx life). Bat now the itiemory of the "radiant bubble that she was" causes a "deep up-pouring from some saltier v.'ell / "Within. ..." The contrast between the iiiiagination as queen of the heavens and the depth release of a new "vratery syllable" of poetry (not from the heaven.? but frcaa the mind) prefigures the f.lignraent of symbolic forces both in this poem and in Harnaonium as a whclo. The imagination as transcendent queen gives way to the depth force of "some saltier ^^rell." Stevens' imagination ii-maged as woman sets sail in this volxmie for "the high interiors of the sea" as the '"'Paltry Nude" who "is discontent / And x/ould have purple stuff upon her anus" (5). Her gradual ennoblement throughovit Stevens' poetry v/ill depend upon bov relationship to the natural processes of eartVi end the veil of the that she sj-mbolizes— the "green vine angering fOilife'* (95) t^iKi the ''interior ocean's rocking" (79) • Section ii corabines symbolic expression with discursive explanation, Stevens' favorite poetic technique (in this poem occurring in varying degrees in every section). The "red birdj," representing Stevens' ovm daoires, hero


51 seeks bis SD.nging place "/jnong the choirs of Kind and v;et £ind King" (earth's natural processes). Biit vjhlle the aging poet thi-'ough consciousness of passing time caxiuot celebrate the springs his imagination continues to require and imagine transcendence and love (c.f, section v). The impossibility of individual, physical beauoy surviving in time is the subject of section iii. The implication is that it is foolish to ."eek the "end of love" in such a form of beauty (abbreviated here ac hair) \;hen "not one curl in nature" survives. Yet the ''radior.t bubble" of the imagination's desire-the woman imaged here in her unmade hair an.d pi-obably still partially associated with the poet's wife (cfe L, 251 )--continue3 to appear oiit of the mind's depths, sleep (cf. ri3). The central theme of the fall is the subject of F-ec"Gion iv. Consciousness of time and inevitable death means that the physical fruit of life tastes "acrid," instead of "sweet" as it did formally when the imagination's image of love and beauty vjas Eve, existing outside of time in "heavenly, orchard air." The symbolic apple teaches the seme moral ay the skull, but "excels" th-s skull in teaching not only avfarcness of death but also of the loss of love-since it itself is the "fruit / Of lov-;.. ..." At this point in the poem, then, love remains accessible only to the "fiery boys" and "swaet-smelling virgins" of section v, Venus, the "furious star, " bums only for youth, whose love is bcand up vrith the procre>-x tivo processes of earth — Vsdiich


i?.! for the poot merely tick "tediously the time of one more year," And he recalls the crickets (e. persistent iwage of cyclic process for Stevens) and the time v;hen his imagination's "first imagery / Found Inklings of [its] bond to all that dust." Section vi and especially section vli initiate a tuK'i toward the first positive aim of Stevens' spiritual, I do not agree with Joseph N. Riddel that section vl is "the most prophetic stan.'sa in early Stevens "-^--althcugli on an abstract level the section points to the crux of Stevens' problem. Tlie real breakthroughs in Stevens' development do not occur on a conceptual plane but in the riythic ayrabolism thai", links together the desire of his iinagination and his sense-, of a physical world. For instance, in tais case, section virj provides a genuine mythic thrust which continues to develop into the later poetry, while section vi states an abstract problem that remains fairly throughout Steven s ' work , "^ If the problem for "men at forty" ia to discover "The basic slate, the universal hue," the difficulty is to preserve the "substance in us that prevails" (the desire and the capacity for love) in the face of the "quirky turn [s] " ^'^e Clairvoyant Eye , p. 91 , *" Ridd^el hiiaself says: "There is every indication that lSte\rens'] ideas in the abstract viere fully (if not clearly refined) in the early poems, . , . His development is manifest in an evolution of style'' ( Th s Gl ai r v cyan t MS.^ p. 5).


53 of the lifimediate x/orld. la oiher vrorda^ hov/ ctm vie relate in lovfj to a basic abstraction in the midst of a world of particulars that comuuind our attentions and our love while reminding us of our ege? At this point in the poem, it still appears to Stevens that "wher. amorists grow bald, then araours shrinl-. / Into the compass and curriculum / Of introspective exiles, lecturing." love remains ''a theme for Hyacinth alone," that immortal youth, The waj out of the dilemma emerges powerfully in section vii first through spiritually weighted imagery: The mules tliat angels ride come slowly dovm The blazing passes, from beyond the s\;!n. Instead of ascension myth, this is descension myth. The eiigels retux-n to earth, and on m.ules reminiscent of the Christ story as well as of the self-denial and othervrorldly aspects of the JudeoChristian tradition. The centurions are of thi_s world; they "guffaw," and their tankards shrill, not tinlcle like the bells of the muleteers. They are Roman soldiers, certainly reminders of their counterparts ot the Crucifixion, although here they are within a 3 erai '• comi c context, "Suppose these couriers brought amid their train / A damsel heightened by etei'nal bloom, " In such oasoy the "imiversal hue" sought in the previous section could perhaps be foimd in the transcendent idea of spirit, beauty, and love brought nov; to earth, whose honey "both comes and goes at once." Stevens expresses the idea


9\ more fully in "PeterQuince at the Clavier"--eapecially: The bo dy dies; the bo dy ' i; be au ty lives. So evenings die, in their green going, A wave, interiiiinably floviing. (92) A sense of the eternal vlthin the processes of time, and not outside of therd — this is what the descending angels can bring from "beyond the siici," This is the "ancient aspect touching a nev: mind" which the poet in section viii "behold [si , in love." But even aa he sees in nev: li^^ht the eternal deiasel of the imagination of earth, the poet cannot avoid sharp awareness of his own decay and apx^roaching death. Speaking of himself and of the woman of his imagination, h.e writes; Our bloom is gone. We are the fx-uit thei'eof. Two golden gourds distended on our vines, Into the auturoii weather, splashed witxi frost. Distorted by hale fatness, turned grotesque. \Io hang like v;arty scuaahe.s, streaked ajid rayed. The laughing sky will see the tiTO of us V/ashed into rinds by rotting vxinter rains* Stevens' constant self-rej.iinde'.-s of age and death can be understood, especially in Karrnuniywi, as persistent attc^rapts to negate the romantic tendency to idealize the earth v/lthout fi-.Ily acC'c^ptixig itrj dimensions. Recalling that Elsie, his vri.fe, had been {and still partialD.y vras at the time of this potim apparently) one of Stevens' images for the queen of hia iiTiagination, the foregoing acknov/ledgement of age and death is particularly poigjiant in viexv of rhe follov/ing more


S5 yo'ijthrul extravagiinces in letters to Elsie (March 21, 2ii, 190?): you vrlll never grow old, will you, . . , You must always have pink cheeks and golden hair. To be young is all there is in the v/orld. The rest is noti sense-and cant, . . . Let us wea.r taells together and never gi-'ow up, . . , Will that stop Time and KatiJire? — Let us trac Nature, this cruel mother. . , . (L, 97, 100) Although in section ix Stevens urges his imagination — his "ward of Cupido, " his "venerable heart'--"to "celebrate / l":>.e faith of forty," all but the luost general idea of what that faith is remains unclear at this point, especially in view of the mordax:!t recogniticTvs of the previous section. Tb.e contours of the faith will only slowly be fillod in fr-orr* here on by the celebration of Stevens' poeti'y. The I'ito and the faith are interdependent. Now in a jovial manner, the poet seeks "verses wild with motion" to reflect the war of life, "music and manner of the paladins / To make oblation fit." He askst "l\'here pliall I find / Bravura adequate to this great hymn?'* The context In dandyish, but the search for the rigi'it "Bravura" is essentially serious and central to Stevens' poetic quest. Section x introduces one of Stevens' most pervasive mythic images: the tree, particularly the giant pine tree, A stately point of reference in Stevens' raythopoeic geography, the tree serves to focus his sense of the procraative earth; for while being a part of the green, cyclic pattern the tree also rises above it, a natural abstraction. Stevens' tree "stands gigantic" and coxitra-sts sharply v/itb


the "magic trees" and '''ba3..'r.y boughs" of the "fops of fancy," Such trees as these latter are usually visualized by the poet as palip. trees (of. "cloudy palm," 68). Woe noble and not phallic, they appear to be associated in his mind Vfith the mystical side of the Bible (one thinks of the "mules that angels ride" and Jesus' palmstrewn entry into Jerusalorc). In this section, of course, the "baliriy boughs" with their "silver-ruddy, p;old-voniiillion fruit" more broadly coiUiote a goneralli.t;d sense of the romantic. Stevens wants it clear that his "yeoman." symbol has nothing of the mystical about it. It is simply the enduring, procreative earth itself focused into the phallic tip "To vrhich all birds come sometime in their time." Just as the "red bird" of section ii seeks his choir in the ''viind and wet and wing," so the birds here are totally within the scheme of nature--\mlike the poet, who in the following section makes it clear that man often acts "without regard / To that first, foremost lavj." But while Stevens is able to illustrate that sex is not all, he at the same time places hiraself in the "Anguishing" position of having separated himself once again fx-ora the processes of earth, the processes toward v;hich his povsm has been moving to validate spiritually. He findi-; himself hore in the same position as in section ii, sepai'-ated from the choirs of birds and without a choir of his ovm except his memory of his earlier romantic se^f--thc "radiant bubble" before the apple vias tasted. 'The la^^t part of section xi j.llustrates the


57 division between the romantic "pool of pink" and "odious chords" of tho frog. The imagination continues to deciire its "heavenly, orchard air"-here its pool of lilie3--but "Last night" is past and the imagination can no longer escape the sourid of the booming frog (slimily real, sexual, and dying), "Le llonocle" concludes on a positive note, prefigured by the descent of the mules and by the gigantic tree. Stevens' pigeons are apt symbols of modem spirit (imagination), ordinary birds of man's cities, replacing the dove, the traditional symbol of the Holy Spirit. A blue pip;eon it is, that circles the blue sky. On sidelong wing, aro\ii:id and rvomid and roimd. A white pigeon ir, is, that flutters to the ground, Grcm tired of flight. The bliie pigeon of mim's own imagination has as«end,ed .-and taken on life in t>>o blue sky. The white pigeon of transcendent spirit has fluttered back to earth, descending like the males. The poet compares himself to a rabbi, once again drawing on the spiritual fund of JudeoChristian imagery. Vmen young he vms distanced from the immediate world, his spiritual imagination focused elsewhere, and man then only a lump or flesh in his sight. Spiritual presence an:l physical reality renained divided until now x^hen he is no longer content to simply observe in "lordly study." Like a rose rabbi, luter, 1 pursued. And still pursue, the origin and course Of love, bat until now I never Icnew Tnat fluttering things have so distinct a shade c


53 Oallirir, on thai; ''aubstanccj in us tliat prevails," the capacity for love, for pronontial response to a sacred 6s.i'th, Stevens announces tho onset of his c^uest. The transceiTdent dpjr^sel has d^iicendt-othe white pigeon has fluttered into thini^c of this v.-orld, things vjhich now have a "shade" — remini seer: i. of tj'io bodiless Epirit-.3hades of Dante as i-^ell as of sijipj.o phyr-ical -•;=ealit.y. The conclusion of the poem is onigraatio. The meaning of such total incarnation is the purpose of Stevens' li.felonpj exploration. Ill Coiiplacenciss of tho peig^ioir, r.nd late Coffee arid oranges in a sunny oht^vir, And the gr-eon froecicm of a cockatoo Upon a rug minglo to dissioatc The holy hush of ancient sacrifice, "Sunday Morning'' (66-70) ope.ns a coxiflicc boti-^een the religious imagination and the iirimediate world. But here the immsaiats world is a more colorfi:! and happy ona than in raost section? of ''Le Monocle," and ohr^re is less nostalgia in Stevens' treatment of the religious past than in his pictupo of the rc?xiantic past in 'Cu.sfirst po<-i7K Sectic.n i provides an example of one ol' Stfev-Jii.s • i>yir3bolic cro3S-oi:.:rr3nt,Sc At f-'.rst the irTmsdi^.to v>'orlu diij-^ipater. the ancient one; than t}if; "old cata3x.rophe" encroaches on the present.^ This is an. early insts-ii've of Stevens being caught between the forcos of the spir-'.tualizing imag'' nation anri the iTjatarial worlcl, Ir. i:.l.>is section the Imagination still seeks


bV it^ liviiig fcTTO in the ChristlBH ?nyth, but tho pc^/o. as a whole, of course, attpmpt:3 to rsalign the iinag;.n?.vion ::ith its i/amediat.-^ vjo:.^l.d. Tbiii first section is a v/ondfir-X'vil., droeri-like roij.llzo.tlon ot the tv:o x-/orlds available for the imagination' s .=?.o.. ritual sustenance„ QDio Crucifixion moves into the cv:)nler o-: conaolousness primarily aa 'cOi \tuearthly and deat/novienred scon'i. It begins as a "caLa" moving across water, do.r'icni.nt: the shjninn; ripples—in a sensc^ taking the life out of the v;ator. Fl-^om the perspective of bar dream of palost-inG, iu the inmodiate world "purulent orang.via and bright, green wings / Seem thinner, in soroe procosnic5\ of the dead. , , ," Stevens' water sy^^.bolisri. i? an essentisl pert of hl'3 wythicd'velopnent : life-giving and d-:athgiving j vjdtor ie of the earth and therefore "ineacapable. " On}y her "dreaming feet'" ca/i cro33 the '' water-'' to the "Do-rdnior. of the blood and sepulchre." Sacvificial and deatVi-orlent .id. the; Ghr.istian myth, as St even 3 paes ,i b here, ntsxxd.z in sharp contrast to the graeix earth. Moving on to a more discursive level in section ii., St even .J asks; v;i-)at is diviniiv if it cr.ii cone Only in silent shadows and in dre&ms? Shall .lihe not find in comforts cf the suii, 1x1 pungent fruit and bright, green Kings, or else In. any"^ bal?.B or beauty of the earth;, 'Ihings t'.) be cherished liVrj the thoui.;}it cf heaven? One dcsiro3 to live in a physical vjorldj "Divinity must live withi;i herself"; 'ho earth can com-v to secin liire hoaveij.,


Stevens' fuarj-darcental raiui-God, earth-HeavC'i mc-taphor has yet a comfortable prettinaay abovit it. V/imt remains to bo developed over some thirty-five more years of poetry is a mythic portrait of earth-heaven as alien, ravage, ixnci powerful--aad real. Here the "measures destined for her soul" are rain, snov:, forest, and so on. Buu the full moasuros v/hich will come to provide the forr-is of the poet's ir.iagination vrill not be arrived at so easily. The false romantic v/ill be d3created--inclv'ding many Ox these "passions," "moods," "Grievingi, " "Elations," sjid "gusty / Etnotions." In later poetry the earth v;ill not only be celebrated as paradise but. affirmed at tho sa^ne tijr.e in its "essential barrenness" (393). Section iii is a call for total incarnation. The trouble with Jove lies in his "inhuman birth'' and the fact that ''no siv^eet lan.d gave / Large -mannered motions to his my thy mind," It is the huraan that is the center of icon's spiritual; it is Christ's hu man desire that is I'e sponsible for "commingling" man's blood with Jove's mind. On© wonders, though, whether the sky will be "mrich friend] ier" after t-ae sky God has descended. Even if it wj 11 no'u be the source of retribution, it wiD.l have bften empbied of its residing spirit., TliO sky, like the rock, will come to declare a prosonco that l:j part of mari's "labor*' and "pain," b\)t in its?lf a "dominant blaxxk'' (Uy?)* Sections iv, v, and vi assert the single reality for man of tixne and eart-h: "There is not ??rY haunt of


61 prophycy"; only "April's green endures," Qiice again birda inhabit the laJid3oapo, providing morning aong and evening descent. The "consicnxnation of the swallow's v/ingi;" prepares delightfully for the poem's final image. The imagination's longing for "imperishable bliss" confliots vfi oh its quest for "enduring love" (lasting, not everlasting) --in oth3\'' words, for sacred beauty. But ''Death is thi mother of beauty; hence from her, / Alone, shall come fulfillment to our dreams / -i\nd our desires," This earth-mo tli^-r-death figure is a central presence in Stevens' poof/i-y. Here it is sufficient to observe that "Althou^ she strews the leavse / Of sure obliteration on our paths , . „ She flakes the v/illow shiverin the sun. , . ." Death and procreation are twin. asp-.3cts of the sarae process, and Steven3» ;>7illow tree is another of the poet's pine-tree-like images, phallic and rooted in the earth. The tree is given motion by the wind of change (death) when seen in the liglit of the real sun. Like the "fiery boys" and "sweetsmelling virgins" of "I.w Monocle," the youths of section v, involved in the process of death oxid birth, av;aken to the sexual, do their devotion, and "stray impassioned in the littering Heaves," once again bringiiig life out of deach (cf. I83-6IO. Still hov^ever, the poat (or the woman-figure cf his imagination) is no longer a part of thi.s scene of youth-although his sense of loss is far less pronoimcad in this poem than in ''Le Konocle," ViJhiJ.e section v illustrates the source of April's endurance, section vl is .Stevens' first lon,?:er ccmparlsori of earth to


62 par-adiso, y'inding in oarth the substance of man's imagination scicl hi 2 paradises. As v;e have observed of "Le Monocle," the procossos of eai'th centered in time and change are envisioned as the pi-opei' environment for a fr-rish spiritual, the eternal damo coiri5.n^ to rest in the realm of the gigantic tree. Section vi continues the answer to tiie imagination's ne?d for "inporisbable bliss," Instead of emphasising positively the processes of earth, this section negates the idea of imperishable paradises. Without death, paradise seems merely a pale copy of earth, but the argui^ient .^till depends at this point on romantic images of nature, such as the "silken weavingc of our afternoons," The section concludes by affirming the realm of earth-mo thor-death as the matrix out of v.'hich develojj the imagination's creative queens: Death is the mother of beauty, mystical, V7ithin whose burning bosom v/s devise Our earthly mothers waiting, r-leeplessly. Once again, as in "Le Monocle" (iii), tiio creative presence is associated with sleep, or rather vxith the sleepleas depths of being, described elsewhere as "Vocalissimus, / In the distances of sleep" (113). Although declaring the earth man's spiritual abode provides the basis for fresh belief, the next stage of the problem ooncurns the "Bravura adequate" to the devotion, the rite that can form the presences of the spiritual. Section vii :1s Steveno' first major effort to iraage both a devotion and a Oou-',ike pposenca. The devotion involves a priroitivt;


63 exuberance, both bodily motion and vocal chuntj a "heavonly feLlowship / Oi' men that perdsh, . , ." The sun is not a Godj "but as a God xaight be, / Naked among thexn, like a savage source." Such "boisterous devotion" persists only as a minor aspect of Stevens' rite. It seeras to belong more properly in the cor,iic pictui=e of the "disaffected flegelIsiits" in "A HighToned Old Chris ti?in Woman," vjho are "wellstuffed, / Smacking their muzzy bellies in parade" (59)= But the Sim, of course, endures as a raajor mythic presence in Stevens' poetry, PJxalted and elementary, both near and distant, the sun as a "savage source" exists at the jtinction of one of Stevens' symbolic crosscurrents. Like the eartb-mothsr vxho is both death aiid reno\/al, the sun (later a consort for hor) is both of the sky and of the earth. The chant of the devotees is "of their bloody returijdng to the sky, " but the sun, unlike Jove, "delights" in the "sweet land"-the lake, the trees, and the hill.s,, To the extent that the primitive men represent, an effort to become one earth's procosses, they do not provide an adequate avenue for Stevens' further developrrient. He has already shown that a man "ijast meridian" 3) cexinot join tiature's f-hoir. But as men through whoiTi the natural forces can speak "voice by voice," these men ai'e more elements of natui-e than representatives of a new belief. The real sign.ificance of this section for Stevens' development is that it shows the earth declaring ibself, providing the configurfj bion of the charjt to the God-like stni end to the


6k .forcoy v/hich continue to choir after the mon's chant is ccinplsted. Tho men themselves are of "obe "dew"--vjhich Stevens interprets in a letter: ''^en do not either oorie from any direction or disappear in any direction. Life Is aa ra6aiiingles.> as dev;" (L> 250). The prime interest of this aection for the developing myth is that the natural elements (here still romanticized) are conjoined v/ith a dsvotion to the Sim "as a C-od aiight beo'' Much lat&j? in Stevens' poe\:rr the forces of eartn (thinss of the s\\n) will come to form the configuration of the iraagination-God when united in the icon of the poem. Section viii is in a sense a revelation that amoruits to a final dismissal of the extra-terrestrial elements of Christiafii ty. The impulse in the fir.:5t section to cross the "wide water" on "dreaming feot," is nov>' arrested by a voice from tiie same spiritual dimension sjonouncing: "The tooib in Palestine / Is not the porch of spirits lingering. / It is the grflve of Jesus, where he lay," .The imagination can no more escape the water than Jesus coui.d the grave | and the water that has been "without sou:ad" is now the stage for a voice of proclsiaation, Stevens had recorded in 3 letter some years earlier his response to the "wonder of the 35.fe and death of Jesus" and his sv^ddon realisation that "God was distinct from Jesus" (L, 1ij.C)r Bv.t in this section what is left when Jesus' hvananity is affirmied is aa "old chaos of the siui, " life vyith no exteinai sponsor, fierc t}ie central tendencf for Stevens to reduce the er.rth to its barx-enness


ih comiteved by more rome.ntic nature imagery — deer, quail, snd bei'ries — though one step at least Is accomplished: an acceptance; of the humanity of Jesua as well as ths "isolation of tho slcy, " Once again, as in "Le Koi^ocle," the pigeons remain as symbols of the spirit descending to earth from an empty skye Also preserved is a sense of the enigma of the new spiritual condition along viith a sense of affirmative hope--the "extended wings">--like the blue pigeons of "Lo Monocle," Looking back over the two poems, one observes a comic dandyism in "Le Monocle" that is far leas pronoiaiccd in "Sunday Morning." Though there is no question that the com.ic pi so finds a significant place in Stevens' frosh spiritual ;i the poet's sense of comedy will be increasingly assimilated ai-^d balanced with the meditative and mythic, elements of his poeti-y (cf. "St. Armorer's Church from Caitside, " 529-3O). And even "Svmday Moniing" points in tli5 s dit'ecti'^n. Overall, "Le Monocle" is; concerned with a comswhat fortunate fall, while "Sunday Morning" follovfs the fall with an affirmation of total incarnation 8-tid a concomitant acceptaiare of the finality of death, ''Sunday Morning" also bi'oaches more fully tne problem of a mythic foundation (sun-God, motherdeath) to acclimate the spirit to its 3.iOV7 environmentj although both poems depend heavily on imagery of spiritual descent, "Bie main difference between the tv;o poems r* s reflected in their titles: "Lo Monocle de Mon OncO.e'' ±s a daadyesque image enigmaticall,y pointing both to


6c o the of language iind to the general per-s-pecti ve or an older nan; "Sunday Morning" nar?ies a traditional, r.5ligious da-/ as well as to rtii.nd the casual tiine for though ^:associated by some with that morning (cf, the poem's opening lines). Most importarit, the latter title leads from the specifically Christian religious tradition ro a reminder of the elemental basis of the word Sunday as a day of the aun (cf. "Ploughing on Sunday"). In a minor way, this strategy anticipates one of the major tendencies in Stevens' poetry as a vrhole. Traditional modes of e7.perience in ajl their for/.is are destroyed at least momentarily in order to create the ground for fresh sight, experience of a r.ev; sacredj, a "primitive ecta?.y" (321). In the manner, then, of the word Simd^a_2^, Stevens gradually xincovers vast, elemental forces"-presences of earth and sky thet con.^titute tho mythic dimension of the poetry. Tliese symbols generally reraain abstract to the extent that they are not records of specific personal experiences but rather vague forces that slcv;ly enter ti:ie poetry to form finally a primitive-like myth opening into an irtimediate world. In a. sense, the mythic e'l'-^-r^'evts are t.'.b.o.t remain after Stevens* deci-eation tsJces place, Vftien man's experience becomes Lotally deromanticized (demytbologized), tv.'o domains remain: first, the miiid, made up oi: liugt abstractions of tho external world--Tree ixistead of treos. Sun instead oj" specific sunny days; and, second, the external v.rorld e;

67 nrfstorj— a bl^jxk-tiist forvjhich vo have no viords. Both these existential conditions forra the of o'cev-sna poetry and, of course, both are functions of the sarne constant — the d.v>£j Lruction (or acloaowledged deterioration) of formor modes of spiritual experience. The poetr-y of Ha rmo nium as a whole traces the problem resulting vmen spiritual desire lacks a mode of spiritual fulfillment. Often the world appears to be either a luinp (vrilhout iraagination) or a false roraantic creation (with imagination). For exaiaple, the prime tension in the volumo as a vjhole reserables Crispin's difficulty in deciding between "man [as] the intelligence of his soil" and the ''soil [asj men''? intelligence" {ZJ;, 36), Deciding simply on the latter gui-de only leads tc the "insoluble iuinp" ()|5) of the woi0..d as turnip — certainly in some vi^ays a less acceptable spiritual condition than the ''fluttering things" and "einbiguous undulations" of the poems under discussion, poems which 60 not cleai'ly opt one way or the other for soil or intelligence. But no matter what our opinion of Stevens' raeditative detenuinaticns in Hamoni^jm^ the fact roDiains thaL a largo body cf mythic iiaagery has already bsgim to develop by this point in Stevens' career, Aliaoc^t all of the i;\aior elemental s;ynbols m.sie at least an appearance in jis'^'^^ii '"-^l. ^ although of course most of them will also po through more full~=,cale development in his future poetry. Ih is time t-o tuiTx to an analysis of the mythjc diicension of much of fcbe


68 basic imagery in Harmo niuiu in order to provide the foimdation for en exploratioK of the main line of development of Stevens' poetry.


CliAPTER III "FROM TliE EARTH Iffi CAl^IE" : I'WTHIC IMAGERY Beneath the raeditative, urbane level of Stevens' pofttr^flows an iindercurrent of elemental symboliara, a vorld of xiiountain and sea, sun and tree, which corabnnes yuith the mysterious v/oman presences of the imagination to foxm a deeply primitive environment. Existing at the point of contact bciv.i(,en aensori; experience end the forces of ths inner aelfj this complex of abstract imagery operates as a mythj c screen to provide the basis of presential experiencec Not to be confused with romantic primitivism, this inythic atmosphere occupies the vacancy left by decreations resulting from the good sense of the centrally civilized mind. That this primitive orientation in Stevens' poetry is no isolated instance in raodena literature is attested tc by Kortbrop Prys's recent coifsaents on the "mcdern tradition"; Of r11 elements in the modern tradition, perhaps that of primitive art, of vjhatever age or continent, has had the most pervasive influence. The primitive, with its immediate connexion with magic,> expresses a directness of imaginative impact wiiich is naive and yet conventionalized, spontaneous and yet precise. It indicates most clearly the way in which a long and tired tradition of V/estern art, which has been refinii»t^ and 3ophl.3ti eating itself for centuries, can be' revived, or even i-oborn. Perhaps the kinship between the primitive and ourselves goes even deeper: it has frequently been remarked that we 69


70 may be, ;lf vjo i>urvivo, the priiirltivea of ap. vjnlaiovfii culture, the cave mon ol' a new mental era. ' The critic atr.erapting to approach this primitive foiiTidation Iz oaset by the problerr. of trying to verbalize a Epir'iLual dimension whose validity partly results froia ita not being tied down, frora symbols that should remain openendeii. Stoveiis vmms that "Nothing could be more evasive and inaccessible [tihan nobility]. Nothing distorts itself and .'5eoks disguise more quickly. There is a shame of disclosing it and in its definite presentations a horror of it=' (NA, 3i4.), In Anatomy of Cr itici.^ m Frye warns that "it i.'? net easy to find any language capable of expressing the uuity of this higher intellectual \mi verse. Metaphysics, theology, history, lav.', have all been used, but all are verbal constructs, and the further vfe take theru, the more clearly their raetaphorical and mythical outlines r>\io\! through," Prye goes on to conclude; "Whenever v;e c:on£tA'UGt a syatftm of thought to vmite earth with heav3xi, the, story of the Tower of Babel recurs: we discover tha.t after all we call' t quite make it, and that what we have in the meantime i£ a plura].ity of langu&ges." Rrye-s own ar).swer to the pi^obleia involves an acceptance of the centrality of archetypal critioiai'^j since "historical criticisxa uncorrected relates culture only to the past, fandl othical criticism unco rrec tod relates culture tc the future. , , . '" If -I ±!1? >:ibdern Century (Toronto: Oxford Univ, Press, 1967)« pp, 9i>'"957


the drea/aer of Pinne^ana Wak e fails to ra^xke use of the '^koys to drsanland, " such activity is left for the reader aiiG for the critic. Prye believes that making use of this "vaat body of metaphorical identifications'' can help to r-eforge "the broken links between creation and knowledge, art .and science, myth and concepts * . . ' " LJ.kev;ise, a cautious investigation of Stevens' myiJhic fonns can help to forge a link between the poet's interior xm^^erae and his experience of a physical world. \i/liile. such imagery faces inward toward the archetypal dimension of the mind, it also faces outward tovrard sensory experience. To uiaderstand these elemental sy^r-bols as Kytbic presenco3 is to see the poetry itself mere clear^ly in its role of ''instinctive incantation" (29!). Stevens' effort "to step barefoot into reality" (i;23) involves the ciiltivation of e. sophisticated niythopoeic etyle that has rauch in common with primitive rcyths. In some ways his fresh spiritual is a leap back in the direction of the primitive shaiTian, who vdth his incajntatory drums mesmerized his experience of a physical world into ritual celebration. Joseph Campbel3 writes, for instance, that "primitive man, from the first we know of him, through his myths and rites, turned every aspect of his work into a festival."^ Recalling Fx-ye's observations concerning the relation between prii;iitive ar-t AiiatomY_of Criticism (1957; 2:'pt. New York: Atheneum, 1 9'S"6)7 PpTl^V, ' 31? , 3^-1-6, ?>9ir' 3 r "r e ati_vg_ My tholo gy , p ., 3^5 .


end the "long eaad tired tradit5.on of i-/c-5stern arv-s." it is possible to soe Stevens' priraitive-liko foundation aa a new stage for presential experience. Steveaa' awareness of the tirea traditions and his sens© of an irmiedj.ate earth are often jxixtapossd in his poetry. He writes in the very early "Pijases": There was heaven. Pull of Raphael's costumes; And earth, A thing of shadows. Stiff as stone. . . . (OP, 5) In order to open himself to the declarations of earth, Stevens frequently turns away from the traditional toward a primitive freshness. This tendency is clear already in sno"Dher early poem, "Comme Dieu Dispense do Graces" (OP, 13-li-!-) from "Lettros D'un Soldat": Here I keep thinking of the Prijjiitives-The sensitive and conscientious schemes Of mouiitain pallors ebbing into air; And I rcEieraber sharp japonica — The di'iving rains, the willows in the rain. The birds that wait out rain in willow leaves. Although life seems a goblin mummery. These images return and are increased. As for a child in an oblivion. . , . The young imagination in the oblivion resulting from the ebb of the old "mountain pallors" experieric63 sharply a pi'irrdtive an iminsdiate earth, which hov;ever remains "mummery" without a mountain myth. The discussion which follows seeks to higrilight the spiritual dimension of Stevens' symbolism through frequent comparisons to primitive myth. In no way 6.0 I want to


73 uiideresti.'nate his emphasis on the good sense of civilization or to imply u romantic regression. If Stevens' myth g:cow3 ouL OS" his attention to the primordial denands of the mind, it also develops out of response to an immediate physical li'orld Bxid to the demands of civilized consciousness. At the same time I do not consider ray stressing of the primitivelike side Ox his imagery to be reductive. For instance, Gasa Roheim has remai'kod: "If the testimony of anthropology indicates eiiything, it shows that priiuitive man is free, untrommeled, and truly self -reliant in coraparison with. Medieval or Modern Man."*+ Stevens' mythic imagery from the Kai-rrioniiim period consists largely of poetic abatractious of the processes of earth and aky and of the mind of man and its creations. To consider that such imagery meroly stands for abstract ideas is to reduce the mythic elements to a conceptual leve]., when, in fact, such forms often enable the poet to escape the confines of discursive thought, preparing the way fc>r abstract ideas rather than resulting from them. Stevens* mythic symbolism is very much responsible for bho environment of many of his pooms, the kind of environment that Stevens maintains "naturalises (the reader] into its own imagination" (NA, 50). Such imagery provides a link between the poet's abstract ideas and his iismiadiate sense ''^ MBglc and Schizophrenia, ed. Warner Muensterberger (1955; rpt. Blooming ton: liadlana Univ. press, 1962)^ p, 50*


eyperiencee It also provides a connection with past riyttis-fictions which have enabled people to r3late in spiritual depth to their iinr;ertiate surroundings end the-' mystery underlying all. Mircea Eliade writes: "A thing becoraes sacrod in sc far as it enjbodies (that is, reveals) something other than itself." But since Stevens' devolopraent is toward sacralization of the oai"'th itself, the presences of his poetry do not point away from themselves. V/hat Stevens' elemental abstractions do reveal is the earth itself ai-?.d the nind of marx-~not elements of earth embodying the "wholly othur" or the mind spealcing God' s Word, but rather the earth and the mind aa sou:c*cos of che m.yth of x-ho "wholly other" and of God, Eliade goes on: ''The thing that becoines sacred is still separated in regard to itself, for it only becomes a hierophany at the moment of stopping to bo a :ners profane Goriio thing, at the moment of acquiring a new • dimension' cf saoredness, "-' Stevens' myth develops in respont'.^ lo a physical -caiivers© that provides no hieropha^iie3--oiily a "iJominaticn of Black." Stevens' iniieritsd myths do not provide for him the basis for experience of the sacr©d» His poetry is therefore largely not the record of specific sacrod encounters-. Instead, the mythic elements of his poetry mostly appear early and develop gradually, looHiing larger and larger as they begin to form thci ground cf his "^ Patte rns in Gomparative Religion), tran--3, Ro. "ternary Sheed (195?8; rpt. Hew Yorl-c: liQvidxQxrr^'WS}, p, 13.


75 belief arxd ths stags for sacred experience-that is, not exptarioncQ of an embodiment of the "wholly othor., " but experience of a thing sacred in itself, a "3cravjr).y cry'' that points nowhere but to itself. Stevens' fresh spiritual, then, is diametrically opposed to the traditional sense of the religious, Eliade observcis; "Nowhere in the history of religions do \jq find an adoration of any natural object in itself, A sacred thing , » . is sacred because it reveals or shares ±n ultimate reality . Every religious object is always an *incamation« of something: of the sac red . "" Stevens* acrawijy "chorister" is sacred beoaiise it 3s "p&.rt of the colossal sun" (53^1-) • \ihen ultimate reality for man ivT of the sun, the sacred object becomes ax* iucarr!.ation of the human spirit alone--which "adds nothing, [to reality] except itself" {ITA, 61). Stevens' mythic sj^rabolism divides roughly according to its rel&tion eithoTto the earth or to t,he mindo Tne imagery devoted to the earth represents natural processes and. foi'mationa centered in an earth-raother-death personificatiori as well as in a symbolism of the life-giving sun, lmager,y of the mind is rooted in Stevens' multi-forraed woman figure, expressive of the idea of love and beauty^ tuid supplemented by the star Venua and the rite of art and its creations, ^Ibid,, p. 153.


76 H-; wo ^ave observed, tho basic mythic pattern of the early Stevens eraergea in "Le Monocle de Hon Oiicle" and "fli;nday Morning." In these poems the line a of spiritual force lead doi-mward, but there is no son^c of a sky God impregnating the earth inother--only everyv/here a sense of falling to earth. The symbols of the iroagination alone appear to ricie. The idea of love is embodied in images of vroman and star. And the sun i;-: presented as life-giving force J, ivornbipped by "Siipplc end turbulent" rr^en chanting in "orgy, " Eat the relation between the procreative sun-earth and the poet "past meridian" X'emains largely enigmatic ^ Tv.o forms of transcendence are clearly denied in these poem:?; the mystical imagination vjithin and the transcendent God without. The opening address of "Le Monoclo" to the imagination's lady deflates through an overabundance resounding of Marian liturgy: ''Mother of heaven, rogina of the clouds, / sceptre of the stm., crown of the rcoon." Sr 0. J^nes characterizes the "Madonna of Catholic devotion": "Ebe is nothing less than the Mother of God, -che Queexi of Heaven, the Woman cD.othed with the sun, having the moon ua^dcr her feet and a crown of twelve stars above her head.. » . ."' From the OTitset fitevens denies the imagination's v;or,)an image garbed in the traditional, supermiuidarje garments of Catholicism, ^ Th e Ct ilt of ..'t^.hQ^.i^I'^tbTjr-Godd^^^ (London: ThRDaes and Hudson, 19T9), ^7'2?I\.»^


77 Along with thin symbol of the imagination goes the traditional image of an extraterrestrial maa-God;; Jovo of the "mythy mind" is no longer the proper consort cf the nother earth. The impregnating rein of "Ploughing on Surjday" is already in the field; it does not arrive there througli the offices of a beneficent or pro creative God, Only the "v;ind pours dovn, " bringing all transcendent images to earth. Eliade discusses the "notion of the \miv9rsal monarch, a sun or representative of the 3]<;yGod on D earth. , . . [This] Emperor is the 'son of heaven'. . » »" Stevens announces in Parmoniu.m tliat "The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream" (6Ij.),' Although Jove and paradise are to be succeeded by man and earth, the portrayal of earth in Hamonium is not primarily paradisiacal. Vihile disparate elements of the earth-"bright, green wings "--are frequently oelebratedp the earth mother herself is largely a matter of death and p.r"^creatio.n. In "In the Garolinas" (l|-5) Stevens asks with comic surprise: "Timeless mother, / How is it that your aspic nipples / For once vent honey?" The question belies thn. poof 3 expectation, of anything but honey fi^om his mother f-;arth. The mother's s^nswcr in this instance i8 merely a Patterns , pp. 62-63, 9 Cf. Alan W. i'/atts, "V/estern Mythology: Its Dissolution and Transformation," Myths ^ Drecj ns, an d__Relip:ion, ode Joseph Campbell (New Yoi^k: ;Out/c;on„ 'IVTO;,, p7 9^" ''"^'he most bafiiic model or image of the v;orld vjhich has governed VJestem civilization has boon the idea of the ixnivsrse as a political monarchy. , tt


76 remnant of Stevens' romantic view of nature (so clearly pi^esent in his early letters): " The pino-tree swee tens my body / The vmite iris beautifies me ." "'he deer, queil, and berries of "Sunday Morning" are part of this same romantic attempt to make the processes of death Kore palatable. Usually when Stevens maintains in an immediate vjay that "Death is the mother of beauty," he falls into tho contradiction of trying to celebrate a romantic nature made up of "warty squashes . . . Washed into rinds by rotting winter rains." This romantic orientation toward nature gradually disappears in his poetry, but the presence of the earthmo ther-death figure remains at the center of Ms fresh spiritual. Most of Stevens' acknowledgments of final death in Harm onium are in a comic-grotesque mode. Badi~oulbadour is carried out of her tomb--her gate to heaven--not by angels but by worms (i|9-50)» Rosenbloom ascends to bo buried in the sky "To a chirr of gongs / Itxid a chitter of cries , . . To a jangle of doom / And a jumble of ^^ords" (80). Rituals oriented around tho idea of spiritual ascension, sy^obolized by the rose or captured by the Biblical -sounding name Badroulbadour^ are debunked by the burial of en. ordinary corpse in the sky, both "Body and soul" (81)= Rosenbloom is as dead as the woman \>rho is cold and diiinb, with hoiTiy feet protruding, in "The Einperor of IceCream," Eliade observes: "The marriage beti-feen heaven and earth v;as the first hierogamy. . .. . The divine couple.


79 Heaven aiid Earth, , . , are one of the leit nioti ven oi" uni1 versal mytliology. " Stevens' earth mother presence in Hannonium is left without her mythological consort \-/hsn the transcendent 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, v;hen the ultimate sky fails to bend in \mion around the earth: "Yet the spaciousness and light / In which the body v^alks and is deceived, / Falls from that fatal and that barer slcy, / And this the spirit sees and is aggrieved." The poem's title is "Anatomy of Monotony" (107-108), but its concerns very much point tovjards Stevens' future development. For the imagination of man v;ill new become the consort of earth, and earth the consort of man, but only when the imagination and God have become one. Furthermore, the development of man's spirit will be interwoven v/ith his sense of earth's presence. The same poem opens: If from the earth we came, it was en earth That bore us as a part of all the things It breeds end that v/as lewder thfji it is. Our nature is her nature. Kence it coraes, Since by our nature we gro^^; old, earth grows The same, V/e parallel the mother's death. The identity of man's nature with earth's nature^ and earth's with man's, sets the stage for the prolific, syrobclic cross-current I have ou.tlincd earlier. viJhen it is developed that man is of the earth and also that the earth is of man, then the idea of man's God-like and barren ^^ Patterr).s, pp. 239-J^.O.


eo imagination will come into play with the earth's heaven-like QX^d barren nature. The glory and mysteiy of human perception vjill even more completely occupy tho center of Stevens' poetic stage. But already in Harmonium the presences of earth begin to declare themselves, entering the vacancy left by the poet's decreation of traditional religious and aesthetic romanticisms. Intimately involved with Stevens' awareness of the earth mother are the multitude of natural processes that begin to structure his vision. Eliade observes that "The primal intuition of the Sarth shows it as the f oujxdo.ti on of every expression of existence. All that is_ on earth, is tuiited with evei'-ything else, and all makes one great whole." The other side of the earth mother figure as death is the earth mother as procreation pjid renei-fal. Eliade writes: "IVhat we call life and death are merely two different moments in tho career of the Eax'th-Mother as a whole: life is merely being detached from the earth's v/omb, death i.s a retur-ning 'hoiDc ' , " Stevens' sense of the pro creative side of life is centered, in Har^onii m as well as his later poetry, in his archetypal tree imagery. For Stevens, the tall, dark pine tree declares itself a presence of earth. Phallic and perrrtanont, in itd positive form it remains steadfcist through all the. seasonal changes of his poetry. Less an image of ^^ Patterns, pp, 2i|.2, 2^3.


61 s5.mplo i^egenerabion (such as the May Pole) e.xi6. more a sort Ox exiduring principle, the pine tree stands large as an unshakoable structure of life (and therefors death also). Eliade observer that "the tree represents . , » the l iving 1 2 cosmos, endlessly renewing itself," Such is the tree of "Le Mcriocle," which "stands gigantiCj, with a certain tip / To i^hich all birds come soraetirae in their tirao. / But when they go that tip still bips the tree,'' When the pine tree is recognized for the principle of life it comes to be throughout Stevens' poetry, two early renditions of such trees sta;;;d out all the raore vividly in their negations. Soir.sthing of the darkness out of which many of Stevens' poems emerge can be experienced In the follov/ing images. In "DomnPtion of Black," the bright colors of the leaves, the fire, and the tails of the peacocks are all submerged within the "color of the heavy hemlocks." The turning changes of life in the wind, then, lead to vertigo and fear, not joy, when the poet sees "how the night came, / Came striding like the color of the heavy hemlocks" (8-9). Stevens' main symbol of procreative life is here a figure of death: the birds are not breeding in this tree but crying out (and real peacocks do scream) against the coming night, A compfiuiion poem to "Domination of Black" in Har^ ?S2^ilHjl» '""^-^^ Sriow Man" (9-10), sounds the same nadir of ^^ Ibid., p. 267.


6?. non-b'r'inn;, ^^^''^ this tirco throUfXh a sense of tho lifelassness of \dnter instead of tho protests of autiaiin. One of the dif ricu7i.T-io3 w3 th translating Stevens' iraagar^"into uhilooopViical abstraction is that such a poem as "The Sno\>j Man" can be read sirapiy as an illustration of the necessities and dsatget'S of hunan corisciousness or imagination; the snow raan "boholds / Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is*'But emphasi^.ing the elemental images of tree and winter, one can experience a powerfiil expression of nonbeing in a dead world: One nust have a mind of winter To regard the frost and the boughs Of the pine-trees crusted vjith snowj And have been cold a long time To behold the junipers shagged v/ith ice. The spruces rough in the distant glittar Of tho Jan\:ary s\in; and not to think Of enj misery in the sound of the wind. In the sovu^d of a fev; leaves. . . . Tho trees of 1? f e are covered with frozen death. The poem is an evocation of the "bare place" of a consciousness experiencing a sense of non-being without aiid within, the world of physical death confronting a mind which must remain nothing or experience "misery in the sound cf the wind, e , ," It vjould be too pat to see this poem simply as the eiq:)re3sion of a mind without a sustaining mytri; the ©xtei^al world of the poem is mure th^ui just pj/ofano-'-it is a v.-orld agaliist life, one of frozen inactivity reminiscent of D?'a version of Cocytus in which laan remains frozen vjithin bimseif.


83 So the trees of life in Harnionim repre-eat 7ion"life (not ju3t cyclic change) as vrell as physical regeneration, /uid in fcheso last two poems, the trees point clearly to this point as spiritually the darkest moment of Stevens' poetry. The eai^th's bai-jc-onness is affirrt;ed without the saving Godimagination of man; the mind's barrerjxess is affirmed without tha saving hsaven-pars.dise of earth. Another mythic tree image that appears in Harm£DiH^ and rocurs iu later poeti-/ is Stevens' curious willow image. The earth mother of "Sunday Horning'^ "makes the willow shiver in the srai" so that the maidens and the boys will procreate. Here the willow is phallic and alive, in motion, one of Stevens' trees of life. But in his raind Stevens also associates the willow image with a church ster^plo, which is motionless and stands against the idea of physical procreation. The cock of morning and of life in Stevens' late "Credences of Slimmer" flies to a bean pole and, looking across the weedy garden of a former "complex of emotions," watches the "willow, motionless. / Tho gardener's cat is dead, the gardener gone" (377). Here the willox-i is used negatively to indicate a past principle of being, now dead, aaad contrasting sharply with the willow of sexual energy in "Sui-iday Morning." This latter image of tho willow provides an excellent example of one uaj in which Stovens' mythic symbolism develops: through a principle of coalescence,


bor-e of wiiloiv and steople, -^ In a fairy tale Stevens sent to Elsies AuPA^st 3. 1909, he had written: A good mojLiy years ago, long before Malbrouok wont to become a soldier, and yet not so long ago as the deys of Hesiod (iu fact, it is a little vm.certain vrben) two pigeons sat on the roof of a bam and looked about thera at the yellow coiyifields and the cows in the meadow and the churchspire over the hill and did nothing at all but murmur "Coo-coo-coo," "Coo-coo-coo" "Coo-coo-coo^ '• This illustration also points to an incipient mythic pattei-'n ("days of Hesiod") focused outside of time ("it is a little uncertain when") which Stevens turns to again throughout his mature work and especially ithe vignettes of some of his later poetry, such as in this episode invc'-lving the cock. CounterbalEincing the pine-tree-liko imagery associaraa w.i th the physical world is the palrritree-like imagery associated by Stevens with the mind's fictions. In Stevens' mythic landscapes, the palm tree takes its place among the imager-y of overabundance of the South --vme re there is little seasonal change. Romanticizing the exotic, Crispin raakes "the most of savagery of palms" (31). ?iut the palm has not the phallic sharpness of the pine, ejid so can easily becorrie 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 1 "5 -^ In this same poem the iiaages of pine and tower alno coalesce. See 373.


OS these connotatioi-AS and more: when tho "raoral law" in "A High-Toned Old Christian V/oraan" (59) is projected into "haunted heaven," "the conscience is converted into palins, / Like mndy citherns h&Jikering for hymns." Expressing both the poetic an.d religious (cf. "palmer") romantic, the .pa.lm remains still a tree, too, through v.'hich the wind makes weird, -lonoarthly sounds. In later poetry this palm tree image also provides a gloss for Stevens' palm of the hand images (cf. 225) • Bird imagery in Har monium is, first and most generally, imagery cl natural life, often procreating in the pines (cf. 17). In the tropics, however, birds too share in the overabundance: "iiawk and falcon, green toucan / Aiid jay . . . raspberr-y tsnagers in palrr;s" (3O)--s:sr0j.bolising a physical '.vorld that is too exotic to be the proper"soil [of] man'e intelligence" (36). On the other hand, specific kinds of birds begin to assume specialized purpos3s in this poetry, sometimes simply pointing toward the realm of abstract ideas, but often serving to unite Stevens' immediate sense of a presential world with abstraction. For instance, the swans of "Invective against Swans" (k) simply represent a romanticized attitude tov.'ard nature and life, associated respectively v/ith the park and the statues. The soul caiTi no longer fly in the swan's chariots when the "crows anoint the statues with their dirt." Unlike swens, however, birds such as crows, grackles aiid blackbirds are all part of a world fallen from the i'Ojr..aiitic — the world


86 wher-G leftover egg shells sully nature'^ temple (cf» L, 62), "Thii'tesn Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" (92-95) ian insts.noe of Stevens' use of a symbol with mythic properties to explore and express this fallen, world, which hia poetry c.£ a vihole is continually in the act of discovering and creating. The poem opens: Among twenty snowy mountainsi, The only moving thing V7as the eye of the blackbird. The poem goes on to present a sequence of pictures, imaging a v;orld in v/hich the 'olackbird is both perceiver and object of perception,, both v/ithin man and without — a relati viatic universe ("many circles," ix) in state of flvjc. ("the river ie moving," xii) where the onl;y "golden birds" (vii) are those which are imagined. Peacocks, in contrast to the blackbirds, are romantic and vivid repre.';'entatives of life as beauty. It is their coming death in a sense that is announced in "Dorcination of Black." Stevens' next tv;o portraits of peacock-like birds are negative. In "/mecdote of the Prince of peacocks" (57-56 /j the peacock turns into a dream vision character named ''Berserk," an insane romantic on a parallel with the equally insane modern vjorld, "full of blocks / And blocking steej.." The "parakeet of paralceets" in the satiric "The Bird v.'ith the Copper^'-, Keen Claws" (62) exists "amid a mort of tails,'but "His lidij are white becaxxse his eyes are blind." The tails of peacocks have long been associated


67 with beauty, resurrection and spiritual vision ^ but Stevens drawa on this fund of rajthio connotations largely in order to negate the romantic. Yet the peacock's cry itself in "Domination of Black" is an image of vital imrD.ediacy,, a. reminder of the dimension cut of which Stevens' abstractiona grow. Bird sounds echo throughout Hai'roo n.i -om and all of the subsequent poetry, but the most enduring note is the "roucou" of the dove or pigeon — the bird v/hich lorStevens represents the ideal of spirit or love. In the early "Depression before Spring" (63). morning arrives, "the cock crov;s / But no queen rises," His "ki-ki-ri-ki / Bring:i no rou'-cou, / No rou-ccu-cou, " In the tale which Stevens wrote for Elsie just before they v.'ere married, tv-o doves (with thoir coo~coo-cooa) are instrumental xa the origin of golden hair and blue eyes in a girl whom the Iling eventually raax'ried (L, l5?--55)» But in this poem, "no queen comes / In slipper green," Just hov; pervasively morning, dove and dove notes, along with the queen, remain fused in Stevens' imagination Is illustrated by his late "Song of Fixed Accord" (519-20), This poem immediately precedes the more major and crucial poem, "The World as Meditation," mid it is oletxv that the dove's experience of the sun in the first poem is parallel to Penelope's in the second. The dove, toOy confronts the "ordinariness" of the sun, while at the same time ''^ Cf. Campbell, Creative I^lythology, pp. p01-03.

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68 the sun is metamorphosed into the "lord of love and sooth sorrow" who "made xnuch v;ithin her." Penelope experiences the sun both as "only day" and as Ulysses (520-21). The significance of such a continuity within patterns of iroagery lies in the fact that while they tend to build up into abstract mythic forms (doves as spirit, queen as imagination) they remain groxinded as well in immediate sensation (the coos of doves). But now it need also be added, that such images implying immediacy are seldom individualized; the peacocks cry like peacocks, the doves like doves, but we do not hear the individual bird. Stevens' poetry is far less the record of presential experience than evidence of a longing i'ov such experience. In much the sam.e way that tree and bird imager-y amounts to mythic abstraction gi>ov;ing from the senses, so too, most of Stevens' animal and vegetable or fruit imagery follo^Js similar patterns — patterns which continue shifting, regrouping, and coalescing, v;hile also building in depth through continuity. For instance, the "firecat" which begins the Collec ted Poem s continues to reappear in various shapes, but always with fiery "bright eyes" (3) (implied at laa3t) — wMch then deepen as symbols of devouring imagination, never satisfied, Stevens concludes "Mcntrachet-LeJardin'-; "I affirm and then at midnight the great cat / Leaps from the fireside and is gone" {2GI4.) , Likewise, the crickets in "Le Monocle" which "came / Out of tbairmother gracs" continue to serve as reminders of the monotony of

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earth's cyclic processes. For example^ in "The Comedian as tho Lebter C, " "The Crickets beat their tajribours in the v/ind» / Marching in a raotionless march, custodians" (I|.2), Tf^e world of ejid vegetable stands over e.gainst all notions o? otherworldly paradises. Stevens early realizes the debunking potential of juxtaposing the pungent, growing earth xvith stale ideas of a st8.tio heaven or God. The best Imovm passage using this device is section vi of "Sunday Koiiiing, " idiich begins: "Is there? no change of death in paradise? / Does ripe fruit never fall?" The soine juxtaposition is used for coraic effect in "Cy Est Pourtracite, Madam Ste Ursula, et Les ITnze Mille Yierges" (21-22), where Ursula makes an offering of a bed of flowerdecked radishes to the "good Lord in Kis Garden.'His response is a "subtle qiiiver [for the earthly reality of both the radishes and Ursula] , / That was not heavenly love, / Or pity," This picture of the Lord quivering after earthly realities flatly contradicts the traditional direction of plant hierophanies, all of xchich, as Eliade concludesj. "express the same idea: that vegetation is the manifestation of 1 i v 3.n g re al i t y , of the life that renews itself periodically." Eliade continues by observing that vegetation can only embody and display the sacred "in so far as it signifies something other than itself ^ No tree or plant is over sacred simply as a tree or plan.t; they become so because they share in a transcendent reality, they becom.G

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90 so because they sign ify that transcendent realioy." -^ For Stevens, the radishes and Ursula have the capacity of moving God to a (perhaps sacred?) response because they are solely of the earth: the traditional flow of spirit is diaifietrically reversed. Crispin discovers: The pliyn survives its poems. It may hpug In thft sxiiishine placidly, colored hj groimd Obliquities of those ;/ho pass beneath, Harlequinod and mazily dev;ed and .mauvod In blooia. Yet it surv:lves in its own form. Beyond these changes, good, fat, guzzly fr-ait. But Stevens also realizes that to describe a plum as "fat" and ''guz?-ly" is to be no closer to the ding an si eh than to describe it as "dewed" and "mauved, " To syiubolize the earth in its "essential barrenness, '' to embody its presential mystery, Stevens eventually will employ hia image of the rock. The closest he moves in this direction in Harraonim is in Crispin's final discovery: The world, a turnip once so readily plucked. Sacked up and carried overseas, daubed out Of its sjicicnt purple, pruned to the fertile main. And. Bcvm again by the stiffvist realist. Came reproduced in purple, family font, Tlie same insoluble lump, , . . (I-|.5) M£in is condcimned to describe his world, and jet Stevens also discovers that to empty onesell on the mepus of traditional modes of response is to allow the monvimental forces of earth to declare themselves. Of. "Floral Decorations for Bananas" (33"5^)» Ithis poem Stevens employs the plum image to fit ultracivilised, eighteenth century taste in contrast to the desire for the "oozing," overabundant South of the banana.

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91 The \-je&thev of earth, including all the natural forcoB surrounding raan, enters Stevens' poetry gradually and steadily to help constitute a "new stage" on which tho poet can act out hi a being. Water imagery is comm.on in Harmonijga a)id througliout Stevens' vc/c^se, and as vdth most of Stevens' elemental symbolism, it helps to provide a mythic environment. Crispin, straight from "simple salad-beds / [ snd'j honest quilts," found himself at sea, where vmves ''were mustachioa / Inscrutable hair in an inscrutable world." But "it was not so much the lost terrestrial = . . ^Ihat counted was mythology of self. ..." Crispin ^'now beheld himself . . . [and] was washed away by raagnitade." VJhat was left of him was "some starker, barer self / In a starker, barer world," and "Crispin / Became an introspective voyager." V/ater, like the earth itself, exists beyond man's "baton's thrust" (27~29)--a chaotic ground of being that csji purge msji of his civilized systems. observes that "water s::>-:abolizes the primal subst.ance from v/hich all foma come and to wliich they will return. . . . Il]t precedes all forras and u^holcls. all creation. Immersion in water symbolizes a return to the pre-forraal ... a reintegration into the formloi^sness of pre-existence>. . . . ^' " "^ Crispin's wator voyage strips him of liis myth mid turns him inward toward the ground of his own consciousness. ^^ Patterns, p„ 188,

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92 Stover) s' "nuda'' is "Eager for the brine and bollov;ing / Of tho high interiors of the sea" (5). Stevens' :ayth of self will spring from "The Place of the Solitaires" (60), "a place of perpetual umdulation" which is alr^o "the motion of thought, c , ." In Harmoniu m water largely does not descend as rain from the sky to fecundate the earth. Crispin is frightened of thujider, lightening, and wind, but no rain is described (32-33). The water of life is already here for Stevens, In "green water, clear and ^^^arm, " Susanna "searched / The touch of springs, / And found / Concealed imaginings" (90). But, of course, the elders standing aside the water profane her act of devotion, her opening of self to the elements. Like the woman of "Sur-day Morning," tiio elders, too, v;ould pass over the water on "dreaming feet"; unlike the woman they do not discover that the water is "inescapable." Men who worship the sun will walk in the "dew" (67, 70). Stevens' v;ater imagery centers more and more on rivers^ especially in his later poetry. In Ha rraon iura rivers synibolizo process, usually either enigmatic or destructive. In "The Load of SugarCane" (12), "Tne going of the gladeboat / Is like water flowing,. , ." In this river of life, everything is "like" everything else: rainbox^s like birds, vrind whistlinc/ like kildeer. Only the "red turban / Of the boatmaii" is not "like" something else but is there to xfitness the eni@:»ia of relationship. At its most extreme, this enigaia is the cannibalism of the river of life, captured in

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93 tbo follovring title: "Frogs Eat Butterf.lies. So.Ri<:es Sat Progs,, Progs Eat Snakes, Men Eat Hogs" (73). In this poem, "the rivers went nosing like sicino, / 'Pugging at banks, until they aeemed / Bland bellysomids in soranolent troughs. ..." The rivers of life are like pigs, but this vrater is also part of the ground of man's being. Paid the rasTL "Who choose.=? not to be a part of the vxater v:iil be defeated by it: "the man [v/hoj erected this cabin, planted / This field, and tended it av^Jhile^ / Knev/ not the quirks of imagery. ..." Therefore, "the hours of his induleut, arid days . , . Seemed to suckle themselves on his ai'id being, / As the sxrdne-like rivers suckled themselves. . ,. « " To see how far Stevens eventually adapts hirr.self to this river of life, compare to the previous poems one of Stevens' final poems, "The River of Rivers in Goxinecticut'* (533) t here the river is individualized, ai^d the "mere f levying of the water is gayety, / Flashing and flash~ ing in the sun , , ."--even though as a sj,Tubol of life it remains the "rivei^ that flows nov^here, liKo a sea." Overall, then, water in its various forms in Harmonium both destroys and renews, both stands for the chaos of the physical world a:id for the mystery of interior consciousness. It also represents for Stevens spiritual possibility: the water in the fields of "ploughing on Simday" which illustrates a potentially sacred physical world, as well as the hope expressed in ''Jasmine's Beautiful ThouK^ts underneath the Willow" (79) for a fulfillment of

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91). lovo in "Blis.T submerged beneath appearance, / In an intoinor ocean's rocking. , . ." In "Now England Verses," Stevenri writes that "the spirit craves a vjatory mountain" (105). r^ut in his future verao Stevens creates his mountain of rock, while the v;ater imagery largely fonas into a river. Wind in Harmon iwa , very much like river xiacov, images change in both outer and iriner worlds. Tlie first of "Six Significant Landscapes" pictures an old man in Ch:ina under a pine tree, who sees larkspur "Move in the wind. / His beard moves in the wind. / Tho pine tree moves in the wind, / Thus water flows / Over weeds" (73)Nothing stays still. For exajuple, "The Wind Shifts" (83-61^.) illusftrstos that the mind, too, shifts like the wind. Stevens concludes Hamonij-jn with an address "To the Roaring Wind'' (113). "Vocalissimus, " who is both the wind (in the outer world) and hiruself (in the inner world), the two together constituting the mystery of change. The changing seasons arc of course an essential part of Stevens' mythopoeic style, but in Harmonium there is little sign of the extent to which they v;ill pervade the later poetry. For instance, Crispin approaches Carolina in the spring, "A tirio abhorrent to the nihilist / Or searcher for the fecund minimum" (35)« 1"et the coirjmou sense of spring's beauty is all that the image intends. In "Banal Sojourn" (62-63)? summer, "like a fat beast, sleepy in mildevj, " is contrasted to "seasons, / Wnen radiance ca:nie running dov^Jn, slim througii the barenosso" Onco again., the

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95 imagery intends primarily to arouse a sense of the "f.v/ollen" overabundance of suiwnsr, a far cry from Stevens' later season iraager:^. For exainple, the idea of suiiojner explored throughout the late "Credences of Sumner" (372-78) makes that season a cardinal compass point in Stevens' mythopoeio geography. However, HaiTOonivmi does provide s?&.son imagery that at least points tov/ard the future development-that is, imagery with significant relation to Stevens' spiritual. "The Han -wiiose Pharynx Was Bad'(96) claims that sinamer and winter "Are both alike in the routine I Icriow." But ''if winter once could penetrate / Through all its purples to the final slate c . . On*^ might in tiirn become less diffidont, , . * One might. One might. But time will not relent," The "final slate" and time are still at odds, bi^t SiE'omer and winter are beginning to represent statss of vision as well as sense experience. V/e hrwe already discussed "The Snow Man" in this light j another poem that even more explicitly links spirit and season is "Lunar Paraphrase" (10?) J "Vittien at the wearier end of November . , , the body of Jesus hangs in a pallor, / Humanly near, and the figure of Mary, / Touched on by hoar-frost, shrinks in a sheltei' / Made by the leaves, that have rotted and fallen . . ." — then a sharp sense of spiritual loss results, enforced by the memories of "a golden illusion" and "an earlier season of quiet." Anticipating his future inclinations, Stevens here associates x«.ntei> both vjith the moon — "mother of pathos axid. pity"--and \vith the mind«s myths.

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96 Stovaus' linking of earthly season vri th heavenly body iii a mode of fvilfilling the prophecy of the descent of the eternal "damsel." VJith the sky emptied of its "Kiythy" kiiig, some of the sky's mythic attributes oen be fused with earth's. The usuaH location for such a merger v/ould be a mountajn, but in Harmonium there appears no genuine moxu-itain and, in .fact, little sign either that a real fusion is t^aking place. Nevertheless, an av/ar-eness of the stillliving, mythic attributes of the sky's bodies begins to develop. In tui abstract sense, for example, Crispin realizes "his voyaging to be / An. up and dovm between two elements, / A fluctuating between sun and moon," that is, between a world in which exteraial forms are lit up and overpo\-J'er the iriind, and a world in which the are dirarasd end the imagination has its "indulgences" (35)» A-lthough the sun is fully established in Harmonium as a T^eality principle, its mythic presence (alluded to in "Siaiday Morning") is hardly developed at all. Two tendencies are clear. First, the sun as it appears in "Ploughing on Scuiday" is a requisite to the glittering earth itself, allowing man to see immediate splendor. This representation of the sun bears a resemblance to v;hat Philip VJheelwright describes concerning the sun's "attributes of godh,ead": "The solar effulgence arouses men's minds to o. sense of povrer and majesty, while i^he light of it, in making vision possible, becomes a ready syrabol for the spiritual vision

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97 * 9 which is synonyirious with the highest wisdon,"' Second, and closely related to this first attribute, is the narmer in vjhich the sun not only allows man to see tait also infuses its ovm. god-like presence into the earth. In place of the "barer sky that does not tend" (108), the smi, for example, of "Sunday Morning" "delights" in the lake, the trees, and the hillSc In. a sense, for Stevens the sun's mythic attributes help to impregnate the earth mother v;ith spiritual 19 meaning. ^ The moon exerts a negative force througliout Stevens' poetry> and in Hannonium this is all it exerts. Here the moon is the presiding spirit of the false ranar-itic. To xinderstand this negative fmiction of the powerful mythological image of the moon is to more rer.dily appreciate the extent of deromanticizing that Stevens undertakes in his poetrj'-, l.hen, syrabo lie ally, chooses to turn away from his actual sense vision in the sun tov;ard his moonlit imagination, he becomes the false romantic. It is a question of the stance, the emphasis, and there is no question v^here Stevens' overall emphasis lies, Crispin sees that the "Maya sonneteers , » , still to the night-bird made their plea" (30) despite the brilliance of the actual birds about them. The Burning Fountain, p. 125', ''^' Cf» Eliade, Patterns, p. 12?: "And v/e have thus observed the phonotaenon ... of the replacing of the supreme sky figure by an atmosphericand fecundating god, the spouse . , . of the Great Mother of earth, moon^ and plant-life. II ^ • «

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98 It 3.S in the moonlight that one meets "Beriierk, " even though there is beauty in "the raoonliglit / Falling there, / Falling / As sleep falls / In the inn.ocent air" (57-30), Only in ris subsequent poetry does Stevens begin tc attach a positive value to the moon— usually in association with the nysterlous vision of the uiaconscious arising out of sleep (cf» "The Hen Tnat are Falling," 1 87-88), The primitive nythological syrabolism of the moon as fertility, regeneration, destiny, or change has no real place in Stevens' myth,'" Ssmbolically, for Stevens the moon's influence too often makes men "Castrates of moon-mash" (355) • The heavenly presence for the true seeker of love is the Venus. The evening star is of tho night, but closer to day than the moon. Since for youth it is a sjrmbol of physical love, this aspect of the stale's meaning can keep it closely related to the immediate earth. In "Le Monocle," the ''furious star" intended for youth, reminds us that "The measure of the intensity of love / Is measure, also, of the verve of earth" (llj.), Stevens' most extended treatment of the .image is both a v/ai-ning against its misuse arid an acclaraation of tho star's potential significance, "'Homunculus et La Belle Etoile" (25~27) at first pictures Venus romantically: "In the sea, Biscayne, there prinks / The young emerald, evening star, , , ." This version of the star is fit only for the false romantics: "Good light for ^^ Cf, Eliade, Patterns, pp. 15I4.-85.

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99 dr-onlcards, poets, -.ddows, / A_nd ladies soon to b« married." On a higl^or level, philosophers, too, allow the star to chai^T?. them ^'until they become thoughtlessly willing / To bathe their hearts in later moonlight. ..." But these are the false philosophers who can lull themselves to sleep r-dth their thoughts. Feal scholars (similar to the "rose rabbi") "thinli hard" and discover perhaps "that their mistress / Is no gaunt fugitive phantom. / She might, after all, be a wan.ton, / Abundantly beautiful, eager, / Pec-ond. ..." Then from the light of Venus shining on this earthy mx^tvoBS roight come the "imj.emost good of their seeking. . . . '• Stevens concludes: It is a good ligl^t, then, for those That knovj the ultimate Plato, _^ TrAn.qulllizing vdth this ;}ewel The torments of confusion. The star of love lighting a real earth (more "ultimate" thac. idea) leads not away from reality but focuses a sacred r-)alin from within life's immediate duality. Again Stevens brings a mythic sky image to earth. 2'' And in later poetry, in "Martial Cadenza" (237-38) for oxsmple, Stevens m.ak6s i^, sharply clear that this star is no escape from time but rather calls the imiaediate moment into life; "the everliving and being, / The ever breathing and moving, the constan.t fire, / The present close, tho present reali/.'-ed, . . . ^'^ Cf. Joseph Campbell, Th^H£.roJ^'ith_ a_^.T^^^^^ Faces (19[|.9; rpt. New York: Meridian, 1936"), p. 303.

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100 ThU3, the earth mother in all her vaidationSt growing and dying under tiie sun's influence, is for Stevens the true end of love. But t}io faculty of love, the imagination of man, is equally a frontier of Stevens' exploration. Tlir-oughout his poetry appear woman presences of the imaginations exteriorizations of Stevens' deepest impulses toward the sacred. One way to conceive of such presences is thi'ougli Jxong's discussions of the ajiima figure, which he refera to as "My Lady Soul" and identifies as the "archetype of life itself » '''^^ Stevens' woman figures of the mind----and these shou.ld be cai»efully distinguished from his earth mother imagery-appear primarijy i;a two sindlar but distinctive for^.s, "Sunday Morning," for example, is largely a dialoivuo between woman-imagination and man-lntellecit. Here the vjomarx fip;ure expi'esses spiritual desire and responds to potential spiritual fulfilliiient, fiuictioning vex-y much like one aspect of the, v/hich Jung says, "comiaunicafces the iraages of the unconscious to the conscious mind, . , ," Elsewhere he adds: "The anima should function as a bridge, or a door, leading to images of the collective uiiconsciousj as the persona shoiuld be a sort of bridge into the v/orld. " -^ Bub iJzSH' Resear ches in to the Phenoraonolog y of the Self, trejis, R." P. C. HulXi 2nd eoU (Princeton: Princeton IHH.Vc Press, 1968}, p. 13; Tho_ Archet ypes sjid ^^the^ Collec tive Un con scious, trans. R, F\. C-'Ruili 2nd ed, CPrinceton:~ Princeton Univ. Press^ 1%8), p. 3?-. ' Memories, Dreams^^Reflections, pp. 187* 392.

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•i 01 Stevens* uoman figures ai'o often not presontod in the fii'st pei'son aiid do not serve as a bridge in this sense. Usually the J are less expressions of the imagination in action than inages attempting to portray characteristics of this woman spirit wir-hin, images sometimes devotional in appeal. In "The Paltry Hude Starts on a Spring Voyage" (5'*''^)j Stevens presents a pictorial image of the female spirit of the iraagination--here, of course, associated with Venus and her sea birth. The poem v;ork3 like a painting, eraphasizixig primarily three characteristics of the spirit. She is fresh and young, associated v;ith elements of nature, especially springtime. She is discontent, "Tired of the salty harbors," and therefore anxious to be off fo?.^ "the b.ig}.i interiors of the sea." She is without air^' external apparatus except the "first-foimd weed" she rides orx: no clothes, no "purple stuff' (to proclaim her goddess identity) and vjithout even a shell, she nonetheless is helped on by the wind. The "goldener nude" that she ii^ill become will be the spirit of a more arranged woi'ld: no "brine and bellowing" but a "sea-green pomp"j no "scui'ry and water-shine" but "an intenser calm," Yet this future v/orld in which her spirit is acclaimed (perhaps iuimortali zed in bronze) and the elements of nature ordered (even the torrent is "spick") seems not to have the vita2.it5 and excitement of her paltry beginnings. There is occasionally in Harmo nium only slight difference betv;een Stevens' feminine representation oi the

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102 iraagiixation urid his earth mother figure. V/iien such an earth spirit is described aa "wanton'' and "Pecun.d" as in his "Homunculus" poem, there is no problem. Such an image will eventually grow into Bav/da, the procreative mistress of earth. But even during his Harfaonixgn . period, Stevens still occssionally appears to project his imaginative spirit into nature, or at least seems to look for a spirit from without, '•0 Florida, Venereal Soil" (/4.7-ii8) is directed to a Venus spirit of earth. As in his early letters, Stevens here still wishes to counter the "dreadful sundry of this world, / The Cuban Polodovjsky, / The Mexican v;oman, / The Negro undertaker , ^ ," with a romantic spirit of the night, i^hioh here io "insatiable" and torments him "Lasciviously," Stevens still attempts to keep the spiritual and toe sexual close together in this poem, but sexual incax^nation will not be Stevens' mode of spiritual fulfillraent. Increasingly he is able to establish boundaries between earth and imagination, so that when they do come together there can be a true moment of sacred contact. Here Stevens requests his "Donna" of the night to "Conceal { herself ] or disclose / Fewest things to the lover, , , ." Evidentally she disclocsa too few things, for Stevens opens his "Tv/o Figures in Dense Violet Hight" (8^-86) with "I had as lief be embraced by the portalat the hotel / As to get no more from the moonlighc / Than your moist band." Then comes the tui'ning point where outer voice becoraer, inner voice: "Speak, even, as If I did not heai'' you speaking, / But spoke for you

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1 03 perfectly in ray thoughts, / Conceivjng words, / As the night conceives the sea-sounds in silence. ..." l;o longer vvdthout, but now vithin^ the v.'oraan spir-it v/ilH begin to spejilc with a voice tempered by masculine intellect: "Say that the palras are clear in a total blue, / Are clear and are obscure; that it is night; / That the moon shines," Accepting the distinction between spirit-self and external world allows Stevens to validly embody his imagination with configurations from outside himself. In a sense., distinguishing betv^reen self and world is the first step in creating the grounds for love. In "The Apostrophe to Vincentine" (52-^3), Stevens' "paltry nude" becomes flefjh and blood, and the poet's own capacity for a spiritual relationship v;ith the earth is detenriined through his imagination's relationship with a woman. Jung observes: "Every mother and every beloved is forced to become the carrier and embodiment of this or,mipre3ent and ageless image [the anjma] which corresponds to the deepest reality in a man,"^^ The first section of the poem refers to Stevens' earlier attempt to describe his woman spirit: "nude," "sraaDl and lean," "nameless." But then in the following sections she comes to life: "wai".n as flesh," "brunette," "clean" and dressed in green; "walking, / In a group / Of human others," "talking." Most important, Stevens says: "And what I knew you felt / Came then." E^rperlence of another, not himself, is what ^^ Aion^ p. 13-

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1014allows hira a first najor step of spiritual growth — for he novjf has a measure of his ovm depth of spirit. Thenext step is the realization of what the possibility of love megjis for his experience of earth: "Monotonous earth I saw boconie / Illimitable spheres of you. ..." The eternal damsel of "Le Monocle " has truly come to earth as "heavenly Vine en tine." Stevens' major devotional poem in Harmonium is directed not to the sua or earth but to Uio imagination. "To the One of Pictive Music" (87-83) opens with lines reminiscent of tVie mock opening of "Le Monocle," except that this praise is serious: Sister and mother and diviner love. And of the sisterhood of the living dead Most iic-ar, most clear, and of the clearest bloom. And of the fragrant modhers the most dear And queen, and of diviner love the day And flame and summer and sweet fire. . . . Of the same family as the mythic figures of the past — "The sisterhood of the living dead""-3teven2' living presence needs no pretension to transcendence {"cloudy silver") to support her, only the natural crown of her own "simple hair." For she is the spirit of man> and separate from the "wind axid sea, " yet able to give "motion to perfection . , . out of our imperfection v/rought. ..." She is the gxoiding spirit behind man's expeirience of an extei-nal v/orld, and this is what man desires most: That music is intense st iJhich proclaims The near, the clear, and vaunts the clearest bloom. And of all vigils musing the obscure.

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105 That apt^rohends the most v.-Mch seas and mimes, As in your naine, sxi image that is suro. . . . The poem concludes with a sense of uncertainty over just whai^ the imagination should provide so that m^ja's image of tha external world vdll net be "too like . . . Too near, too clear. ..." This dilemma in the future leads to some of Stevens' greatest poetry. At this point, Stevens simply affirms without reservation his devotion to the spiritual possibilities of the imagination—which is to aay, its capacity for fictive music. 'Ihe hair which crowns Stevens' woman presence is an image pointing to the natural growth of the depth forces through her into form and consciousness. Later, the leaves which cover the rock (cf, 526-2?) will connote much the same meaning, ;:ith the exception that by that time Stevens will have fully developed his art imagery. Man's various artistic m.ooes are his^ means of giving shape to the forces within and his means of seeing the world without. As Stevens creates the grounds for an increasing awareness of the, spirit-depth of the imagination, he also deepens his apprehension of art as man's rite of being. V/e have already seen from his early letters how music provided him with a metaphor for the "mysber^^ of the past within us" (L, 136), In Harmonium, music is Stevens' art image most fully developed in its ritual dimension. But even music is more often fomd in a comic context, such as the "guitars-catarrhs" word play in "The Ordinary Women"

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106 (10-12), Only in "To the One of Pictivo liusio" and "Peter Quince at the Clavier" does Stevona begin to explore the mythopoeic possibilities of his music imagery: "bhe music avBTinioned by the earth / That separates us from the wind and sea" (87); "Susanna's music [that] ... On the clear Ariol of hor memory . . . makes a constant sacrament of pi'aise" (92). In architecture, too, Stevens discovers a symbol vjith mythopoeic potential. There are many kinds of dwellings and structures in Harmonium as v;ell as in the rest of the poetry. But architectural Imagery has the disadvantage of referring to fixed creations and is therefore more often used simply to provide settings or illustrations than to embody the flow of being. In fact, living within a structure often has negative connotations for Stevens. For instance, it is their guitar music which actually allov/.s the "Ordinary Women" (10-12) to flit ''through the palace walls" of their imaginations. Crispin settles for a cabin., though he "onco planned / Loquacious columns by the ructive sea" (l+l ) „ The man vjho erects the cabin in "Frogs Eat Butterflies ..." (78) lives through "arid day" avoiding the river. In "Hymn from a Waterrtielon pavilion" (68-89), the "dweller in the dark cabin" chooses to live in a dream "obscured by sleep. ..." Stevens explains his theory of the supreme fiction to the "High-Tonrad Old Christian Vtoman" with an architectural metaphor.^ But his most significant effort during this period to image elements of his myth in

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107 architectural forms is "Architecture" (0?,, 1 6-'i 8 ) . Although the poem is over-written (Stevens omitted it froia the second edi. tion of HanncniuiTi f 1 93^ ) » 2.t remains a cache of potential ri?/thic symbolism, some of which does not fit well vdth the architectural pattern. He wants his structure to be a never-ceasing "building of light": "Kow shall we hew the sun, / Split it and mako blocks, / To build a ruddy palace?" The palace's "chiefest dome [will be] a demoiselle of gold.'' Such imagery, when it grows naturally into his overall myth, will be essential to his major poetry; it will not be integrated by an sncompassing metaphor from architecture, however, but by the man-Crod, earth-heaven cross-current at the center of his spiritual. As this discussion of the mythic imagery of Stevens' HarmoniuDi period concludes, I want to at least mention some surprising and significant absences. First, although Stevens' poeti-y has much in common with painting, there is no extended effort in Harmoniv im to present images of painting as rite or to provide a mythic dimension to this art form. The ^'men at forty" vho paint lakes in "Le Monocle" is about as far as Stevens goes. Also, tber-e are few indications of the extent to which Stevens' metaphor of the imagination as light will com© to compose a major element of his vision, although candles and lanterns do at least make an appearance: "My candle burned alone in an immense valley" (pi); "the steadfast lanterns creep across the dark" (56).

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108 Above all, in Harmonium there is no central man, there is no rock, there is no poem as icon. The closest Stevens approaches to his central man figure is in the "rose rabbi" of "Lo Monocle" arid the scholars who "think hard" in "Ho:mujiculu3 et La Belle Etoile." His usual man figures are soldiers and clowns, both of whora negate romantic transcendence. "The soldier falls. / He docs not become a three-days personage, / Imposing his separation, / Calling for pomp" (97). Man-Christ does not ascend; there is no separation from earth. Crispin's pretensions are "clipped" (Lj.6). There is as yet no "philosophers' njfji" (250)3 no "giant of nothingness" (i|i|.3). The only giant is a ''yokel" (6) being seduced by beauty. Ouly when earth's barrenness is experienced through the rock image, and when the womaxiimaginaticn is tempered by the man-intellect, v;ill the central poet be able to avoid the seductions of the romantic in order to create hia poem of contact between mind paid earth.

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CHAPTER IV "MORE TriM SUDARIUIvl" : IDEAS OF ORDER AND Taa MAM V/ITH THE BLUE GUITAR Following the publication of Harmoniuia in 1 923, Stevens published few poems until its second edition in 't 93"' • I'f'' is tempting to question the reason for this apparent lapse, especially considering the extent of creativity before and after this period; but for the purposes of this study it is sufficient to note that v;ith the renewal of his writings, leading to Ideas of Orde r (1935-36), Stevens reassunied his acoustoified themes and reentered the mythic environment already partially formed in Harmon iuzn . Although a few key symbols were yet to appear, Stevens' poetry from the 'i930's on \^o.a. devoted primarily to deepening the myth end making it his own. The poems of Ideas of Order are more often specifically focused on the problem of belief than the poems of Hai'mqniumt Stevens' second volume of poetry is a collection of farowell.o as we] 1 as a proclamation of a fresh 9iid enigmatic faith in the imagination. The jaajor force of most of these poems is toward decreation of aesthetic or religious romanticismsj Stevens once more attempting to pull apart stale interpenetrationa of earth and imagination. Ho therefore sails a'v;ay from Fieri da (11 7-1 8), a land of 109

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110 iraageiy too much akin to the mind's romanctjs, eithertoo spares or too exotj.c, "bleaching sand" or "vivid blooras." He aclaiowledges : "That lejad is forever gone , , . [although] I loved her once." The rejection of the romantic, as we have seen, begins in Harmoniui n, where it takes the foPi/i especially of a denial of o the i^v;or Idly paradises and aesthetic exaggerations. In Ideas of Order, this decreation is related raore closely to the vjay man sees, no longer stressing the soil as man's intelligence, but deepening the meaning of the idea of thv^ romantic itself. In a letter announcing the possibility of "Ideas of Order" as the title for his forthcoming volume, Steveny went on to observe: Poetry is essentially romantic, only the romantic of poetry must be something constantly new andj therefore, just the opposite of v/hax; is spokon of as the romantic, Without this ne\-j romantic, one gets novjhere; with it, the most casual things take on trfinscendence, and the poet rushes brightly and so on, V/liat one is always doing is keeping the romantic pure: eliminating from it \s'hat people speak of as the romantic. (L, 277) Clearly the idea of the romantic for Stevens is intimately related to the idea of rsiyth as constri-ied in this study. If a "new romantic" leads to experience of "transcendence," then ^^re are dealing v.'ith a v;ay of perceiving the sacred in the "casual things" of an external world. The difference between the romantic of the past and the modern romantic grows out of the fact that man is presently av;are of myth as a wholly human creation in a way that wai5 impossihle before. The idea of hi:
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1 1 'I which bego.n as a coinic proposal In "A EighToned Old Christian Vfoman, " is now explained as a problem in "keeping the romantic pure," For Stevens, the new romantic must originate in the mind, not in an order coxaing from without, 'Too many waltzes have ended. . . . There is order in neither sea nor sun. . , , The epic of disbelief , . . will soon be constant" (121-^2). Stevens also begins in this volume to make greater use of mountain imagery as an index of spirit. "There's that mountain-minded Hoon, " who ever desired more than the waltz, and whose mythic figurations "were never figures of men, / Nov;, for him, his forms have vanished'' (121 ). From the Alps, "Pojioramas are not vjhat they used to be, / Claude has been dead a long time. . . . But in Claude how near one vjas / (In a world that was resting on pillars, / That was seen through arches) / To the central composition, / The essential theme," But now, the "pillars are prostrate, the arches are haggard" (13''J--5^). The loss of a fraiae for the composition is, for Stevens, what allows man to "believe beyond belief," For although "Marx has ruined Nature, / For the moment . , ^ the panorama of despair / Cannot be the specialty / Of this ecstatic air" {^ 3h~3^) » From the, one sees the Stevens writes: "It is as if in a study of modem man we pr-'-'dicated the greatness of poetry as the final measure of his stature, as if his willingness to believe beyond belief was what had made him modern and was alxifays certain to keep him so" (OP, 202).

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112 "cresses on the convent roofs / Gleam sharply as the suxi comes up." And one knows that v;hat is belov; earth and v/hat is above ee.rth are alike in the past, even though the faithful continue to chant their "poem of long celestial death; / For who could tolerate the earth / V/ithout that poem, or without / An earthier one, tum^, turn.ti tujn / As of those crosses, glittering, / And merely of their glittering, / A mirror of a mere delight" (135-36). For Stevens, the cross as symbol is dead; it remains alive s5.mply as a physical form in the bright air of earth. The implication is that the modem "Botanist on Alp (llo. 1 )" csii expect no traditional arrarj.gement of beautiful flowers a-oy more than the "Botanist on Alp (No, 2)" can now expect the rose of paradise, past aesthetic and religious lomantlcisms are dead: "Bcire earth is best. Bare, bare, / Except for cur own houses, huddled lov; . . , where the voice that is in us makes a true response" (137-3^^). As in Harmon iU iU so in Ideas of Orde r Stevens continues to await the birth of love. Now as he moves toward the autumn of his life, "The grass is in seed. The young birds are flying. / Yet the house is not b\iilt, not even begun. / The vetch has tiimed purple. But vihere is the bride?" In tliis "semi -world" lacking a mountain myth, Stevens turns once more to the woman figure v.'ithin, "She miist come now. . . . Those to be bom have need / Of the bride, love being a birth" (119).

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113 The great poom of thia volorae is "The Idea of Order at Key West" (128-30), an elevated portrait cf Stevens' woman presence, her song, and the earth. In H armon ium, love is bom out of Stevens' open response both to otherness ("The Apostrophe to Vincentine") and to th/s woman voice within ("To the One of Fictive Mnsic"), Now in this poem, the spnbolic cross-current that flows throughout Stevens' poetry stands out in sharp relief. The earth becomes the inhvtnan seaj the voice of man becomes the only spirit he shall know, '.the mystery of tho woman spirit faces the mystery of the "veritable ocean. / The sea was not a mask. / No m.ore v;as she." Given the two ultimates of Stevens' poetry, the mysteries extending without and within, ''Tlie Idea of Order" thx>usts first toward inwardness and then back toward the external world. This is the typical movement of Stevens' poetry as a v;hole : flox-zing first along the cu-rrent leading to the frontier of the imagination and then back toward the frontier of physical reality. First^ "it was she and not the sea we heard. . . . The ever-hooded^ tragic-gestured sea / VJas merely a place by which she walked to sing." when man asks "\\ttio3e spirit is this?" the answer initially appears bo bo that it must be her own. For if it xjere the voice of the sea man heard, it would only be "deep air," But the poem turns in its answer to this question. The spirit is more than the "dark voice of the sea . . . More even than her voice, and ours, fiinong / The meaningless

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11 Jl. pj."un£ing3 of viater and the wilnd." The answer to the question "V/hose spirit is this?" unravels only when Stevens images the conjunction of voice and earth. It was her voice that made The sky acute st at its vanishing, Sho measured to the hour its solitude. She was the single artificer of the v/orld In which she sajig, Stevens' spiritual center is located here at the line of demarcation between earth aiid mind. The imagery of sea now becomes that of sky in order to sharpen the idea: the space of sky is defined by its boundary on the horizon. But sea and sky both can only be knovm through her song, into which they disappear. She was the single artificer of the world In which she sang. And when she sang, the sea, l^atevor self it had, became the self That was her song, for she was the malcer. The lines vmich follow these are not, then, so clearly solipsistic. Then v.'o. As we beheld her striding there alone. Knew that there never was a world for her Except the one she sang and, singing, made. Although for her there is only the world of her song, the relations hip between the song and the sea remains parfanount. She is the "single artificer," She makes the earth "acutest at its vani&hing," The denouement of the poem takes us momentarily away from the elemental landscape of voice ajid sea toward the town and it^ fishing boats. But the world of man is built within the compass of the mystoiy of human perception.

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Man's lights map out the world ho lives in» just as the imagination's song is a song oi' sea and sky» But whereas for the woman the nea is "raerely a place by which she walks to sing, " her song being uppermost, for the male consciousness it is the sea and sky that are foremost. Ivhat is important for him is that the lights Mastered the night and portioned out the sea Fixing emblazoned zones end fiery poles. Arranging, deepening, enchanting night. The poem concludes by celebrating the "Blesc^ed rage for order," an order involving, first, the receptive song of the vjoman sung alongside the sea and, second, the aggressive male consciousness which transforms the song into light turned back onto the elements. In thit way, the imagination's song is no longer the prison she is condexrmed to live ia, but a way of sight allowing the transcendence of a pure romantic. Although the old composition seen through the pillars and the arches is gone, these new lights of the imagination are "fragrant portals" opening onto the sea us vfell as into ourselves in "ghostlier demarcations, keener sounds," Spiritual transcendence and sense experience are united in the transparence of man's imagination. As lover of his woman spirit and as experiencer of bare earth, the poet figure emerges in Ideas of Order as the prophet with accurate speech, the "hai.-monious skeptic" (122) who will give motion to the mythic "shapes" again. The poet's function is not ornament, "mere sound." "As part of nature he is part of us. / Kis rarities are ours; may thoy

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1 1 6 be fit / And reconcile us to our selves , . . [creating] An infinite incantation of our selves / In the decadence of the perished swans" (1l4i|-l|5). In reconciling the male intellect to the desires of the woman spirit, the poet begins to assume the role of the rabbi, the quester of love (although the rabbi figure also continues to appear in Stevens* poet3?y). For example, Stevens directs his "Re-statement of Romance'* (1if6) to his inner self: The night laiov?s nothing of the chants of night. It is what it is as I am what I am: And in perceiving this I best perceive myself And you. Only we two may interchange Each in the other what each has to give. Only we two are one, not you and night, Nor night and I, but you and I, alone. So much alone, so deeply by ourselves, So far beyond the casual solitudes. That night is only the backgroxind of our selves. Supremely true each to its separate self. In the pale light that each upon the other throws. Pew passages in Stevens provide so explicit a stateinenb of the double self of the poet. But along v;ith reconciling his two selves, the poet must also sharply separate himself from the external world. The night is alien--to perceive that is to more fully experience both what is within and vjithout. For Stevens' future development, the most essential short poem in Ideas of Order is "Hov7 to Live. IVt^at to Do" (iZS-f^). Not only does this poem initiate the majorStevens xvrote on November 15> 1935* "I took a look at Ideas of Order the other night to see T.'hether there v.'aa any single poem in it that I preferred to all the others. If there is, it seems to be How to Live, Whst to

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117 sjTabol of his l.te work, it also serves to develop his scenic fable techxxique in a mythic direction. He has already to this point presented nuraero^as sketches of people in the abstract. In fact, much of his poetry involves, to some degree at least, this technique of glimpsing brief and often enigmatic scenes, such as in Hamonl3£n "The Ordinary Women,'* "The Doctor of Geneva," "The creeping Burgher," and "The Einperor of Ice-Cream." Gradually many of these sketches begin to develop in the direction cf those ele-^ mental abstractions defined by this study as mythic. One notices a gradual shift toward a greater preponderance of natural forces, a lessening of come or ironic effects, and an increase in m.ore purely scenic as opposed to conversivo or discursive elements. Note the way in which the elemental sy-nbolism takes on mythic proportions in this poem, a precursor of Stevens' Diajor later poetr%^: Last evening the moon rose above this rock Impure upon a world unpurged. The man and his companion stopped To rest before the heroic height. Coldly the wind fell upon them In many majesties of sound: They that had left the flame-freaked sun To seek a sun of fuller fire. Instead there was this tufted i^ock Massively i-ising high and bare Beyond all trees, the ridges thrown Like giant arms among the cIouqs. Do. I like it most, I suppose, because it so definitely represents my way of thinking" (L, 293).

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116 There was neither voice nor crested imago, Ko chorister, nor priest. There was Only the great height of the rook And the two of them standing still to rest. There was the cold wind and the sound It made, away from the muck of the larid That they had left, heroic sound Joyous and Jubilant and sure. Sun, moon, rock, wind, trees, clouds — and yet one would not call this a nature poem. The forces of nature are not presented with individualized immediacy; rather, they are absti^actions which form an atmosphere of the mind. For Stevens, however, they are abstractions of a different order than the "voice [ejid] crested image" of former modes of the imagination. Not reliant on nan's aesthetic and religious traditions ("the muck of the land / They had loft"), the abstractions of nature provide a fresh mythic figuration of their o\\rn. The rock, for instance, comes together here with man and his paramour for the first time in Stevens' poetry,-^ It provides an illustration of Stevens' mythcpoeic process. On the one hand, as an image of earth the rock serves a fi.inction which Stevens' sea and sky imagery cannot fulfill. The rock-as well as Stevens' closely related mouatain imagery — is a representation of the alien substantiality of earth that is important to Stevens' efforts to see the earth in its essential barrenness. But on the other hand, the • For a detailed discussion of Stevens' rock figure, see Ralph J. Mills, "Wallace Stevens: The Image of the Rock," in V/ allace St evens; A Collection of C ritical assays , pp. 96-110.

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1 1 9 \r:n;.sual pov?er of such images as the reck caiino b simply be explained in relatioi). to their abstract functions. To say that the rock iitiaRo enables Stevens to strip the earth to a clean bareness is to describe the iiu.age as if it f-onctioned as an idea.. But the Mnique level or pitch of Stevens'. poetry, vihich is conspicuously illustrated in the rock image, cannot be adequately described by reference to abstract ideas alone. It is to his own experience and to the iinxTrediate act of perception we muse turn to understand the magics.1 power of the rock. Fortunately we have a brief record of an early response of Stevens to raou.ntainous rocko On a trip l^Test in 1903 he wrote in his Journql of the "capital mountains," especially their "mass , " lie v/as stx-cick by the "rock (character of mountains above the timber line" (Lj 61;-) 9 Such records only hint at the way in which his receptive imagination must have opened throughout his life to the declarations of phenomena. It is his poetry v?hicb completes the picture by showing iiovj such momentary experiences of physical presence coalesce into powerful presences of the mind. This central aspect of Stevens' genius can best be described with reference to the primitive's experience of the sacredo In viev-j of Stevens' image of and response to the rock, note the following observation of Mi r c e a El i ade : The hardness, ruggedncss, and permanence of matter was in itself a hierophany in the religious consciousness of the primitive. And nothing was m.ore direct mid autonomous in the completeness of its strength, nothing more noble or more awe-inspiring.

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1 20 thaii a majestic rock, or a boldlyj3 banding block of granite. Above all, soone is,^ Such descriptions of the primitive's sense of his world provide both a key for uadsr standing Stevens' own responses and a parallel for describing the level or pitch of his poeti^'-. Stevens vjrote during this period that I^ilton "today, instead of going off on a rayth . . , would stick to the facts. Poetry will always be a phenomenal thing" (L, 300). Stevens' own dacreation of former myths airas also at facts, at phenomena. With the rock imago available to strip even his ovv'n changing fiction, Stei'ons continuod to open himself to the declaration of phenomena. "Lions in Sweden" (1 21].) concludes by affirming that, afterthe "sovereign images" are gone, the "vegetation still abovmds x-dth forms," II Although he v/ould alv/ays continue his decreation of stale modes of the imagination Stevens became increasingly aware at this time that one always believes in something in order to see at all. Fictions are necessary, and now his conscious concern over his ovm fiction intensified. I deas of Order v;as published first in July, 1935* Owl's Clover first appeared in the fall of 1936, £\nd The I'lsn with the Blue Guitar and Other Poems was published in October,1937'-. VJh.lle most of the poetry of Ideas of Order ^Patterns, p. 216.

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121 is linkad closely in theme arxd style with Karroorjium, the next two volvpnes diverge markedly in both fo7'iu and eubjaot. Concerning the fir,st of these tx^o volxxtnss, Stevens wrote: "'What 1 tried to do in 0->fl's G lover was to dip aspects of the contemporaneous in the poetic" (L, 3'\k)' Concerning poems that would comprise "The Man Kith the Blue Guitar," he wrote: "They deal with tho relation or balance hetween imagined things and real things 'chieh . . . is a constant source of trouble to me" (L, 316). "OvjI's Clover" is a relatively conspi ous_ attempt to create mythic forms to provide a pcrspecfcive tor contemporary matters; those foiTTis largely do not survive in Stevens' subsequent poetry c "The Man v;ith the Blue Guitar" is a discursive poem founded in Stevens' developing mythic pattern; it makos conscious fche relationship between Stevens' cuest for a fresh spiritual and his concern with the iznaginationreality cfilerama. Stevens' usual woman presence makes no prolonged appearance in either poem: this is a time of priiuarily conscious exploration, a fact which hinders the first poem and aids the second. Much of "Ovvl's Clover" is pretentious in a way that Stevens' poetry seldom is. In its exotic and often enigmatic ai-xd abstract language it shows affinities v;ith early poems such as "Le Monocle" and "The Comedian," but unlike these poems "Owl'« Clover" is not written from an ironic or com:LC perspective a It attempts rather to be serious proclamation-weighty rmd witty, but only occasionally comic. Its

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122 failings 3tem from Stevens' avowed purpose. In seeViing "to dip aspects of the contenporancoxxs in tho poetic" he discovered that the contemporajieous was not to be the native stv^ff of his poetry any more than the poetic (or mythic) could be surmioned at: will. The poetic side of "Owl's Clover" seems intended by Stevens as a kind of mythic elevation. His larger-than-life figures and his pompous voice are parts of a poetic atmosphere which alms at transcendence. The opening section of the poem serves as an illustration of the aims and shortcomings of tho poem as a vjhole, "The Old Woman and the Statue" (OP, k3~h^) juxtaposes the statue (a "symbol of crt") with the old uoinari (a "symbol of those who suffered during the depressior."; OP, 219). The marble hori'cs "thrust against / The earth" attempting to rise on "feathery wings," but this form of transcendoncs is falling to the destruction of time. Just as the figures of Jesus and Mary in Harmonium are surrounded by "leaves, that have rotted and fallen" (107), so "rotten leaves" here swirl arouiKi the horses, Stevens begins "The Noble Rider and the Souiicl of Words" with a view of Plato's figure for tho soul, wnich employs winged horses arid a charioteer, Thcj question for Stevens is "iiTny does this figure, potent for so long, become merely the emblem of a mythology, vhe rustic memorial of a belief in the soul axid in a distinction between good and evil?" The answer is "The imagination loses vitality as it ceases to adhere to v/hat is

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123 realo . . « It has the strength of reality or none at all." (NAj, I}., 6-7). In this first poem of "Owl's Clover" Stevens finds it ii.iipossible to reconcile the "harridan self" of the contemporary" mind vcith the figure of transcendence. Only witViout the presence of the old woman could evening "like a budding yew" bo brilliant, /uad only in that mythic domain, "there, "-"^ could the horses rise again, "Hoofs grinding against stubboiTi earth until / The light wings lifted through the crystal space / Of night." So it is throughout the poem. The contemporsjieous remains separated from the mythic, axvd Stevens' contrived mythic figurss do not get off the ground. Figures such as the status, the celestial muses, the greenest continent, Ananke, the Portent, and the Subraan do not become olemants of Stevens' living myth; they are elevated abstractions which do not embody the forces either of eartn or the imagination* The poem as a whole testifies to Stevens' conscious need for trarxscendence, but it remains largely a mythological exercise rather than living myth. Wylis Sypher explains the difference: i'^thology is not myth, but myth that has been rationalized or verbalized. Mythology is ons way of making reality conform to our ideas of reality. , , , Dubuffet's an ti -painting is mythical; but it is a revolt against mythology in art, . , , A myth that is consciously intended tux'ns into mythology. . . .° ^ On Stevens' use of the mythic "bhere," see Vendler, pp. 79, 88. • Lo_ss of _the Self in Modem Literatiu-e and^Art (Kew York: Random ,*TyD'2), p. f31 .

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The point; is that the living myth of Stevens' poetry grov.'s from his immediate experience of earth and imagination; his words and his experience are entwined in the mythic environment of his poems. The more he pulls away from his immediate realities the more he discovers that, like Plato's figure of the chariot, his "imagination loses vitality as i t ceases to adhere to what is real. . , . '• Tn "Credences of Sutamer" Stevens affirms — even as he fixes his experience in the "eternal foliage" of his myth-that "One of the limits of reality" is the hayfields of Oley, Pennsylvania (373-?^^-).'^ "Owl's Clover" concludes by returning the poet once again to the sacraraentttl center of his own life. The place of contact between the mind ejid the world is, at the end of the poem, the night in whicb "the realist and the man of imagination arc indistinguishable" (L, 373). Stevens' "passj.on merely to be / For the gaudium of being, Jocundus instead / Of the black-blooded scholar,'' is not a surrender of his efforts in the poem but the desire for" re-entry into a real world at its acutest point, xjhere "night and the imagination , . . fare] one." ' Cf.; "It is its myths which distinguish wi^^s_ CI o v e r . . . from the long poems x^hich preceded it. A great part o'f the poem is mythical, not the 'once upon a time there was' of folk talvo but rather the 'my soul, there is a country' of myth still extant" (p. 79).

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125 III "The Man ^^?.ith the Blue Guitar" is a collection of brief forays into the same problems which occupied Stevens in "Owl's Clover." It is a rcors successful poem because it remains largely on a meditative level \rithout trying to force the mythic dimension to develop through elevated presentations alone.. Imagining himself, the artist figure, as the player of a gxiitar allovjs Stevens a new freedom of poetic meditation, looser 8Jid sur-or than anything ho had done previously. For instance, in ancv/er to the desire for transcendence-"A tune beyond us, yet ourselves" (i)— -he can now respond: If to serenade alr?ost to man Is to miss, by that, things as they aie. Say that it is the serenade Of a man chat plays the blue guitar, (ii) This element cf playfulness in the poem permits a range in the exploration of the idea of transcendence which v^as not possible in the serious pronouncements of "Ov>fl ' s Clover.'' The first form the problem of traiiscendence as suras s is the jujctaposition of the everyday world, "flat and bare . , . [with] no shadows ..." and poetr-y, vihicb "must take the place / Of empty heaven and its hymns" (v), the reason being simply chat the "thinlcing of art seems final when / The thinking of god is smoky dew" (vi). In the absence of God, ritusul attempts to raise the everyday world to levels of transcendence only illustrate their own

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126 insufficiency. The p3?ogres3 of the hero through tho streets is attended by bells and confetti, but no one believes in the "pagan in a varnished ear" (x). Toward the end of his life, Stevens, conuiienting on this poeiri, contrasted this commonplace hero ("a politician, a soldier, Harry Truman as god") with the image of a '•superman" through which a supreme fiction could be created (I,, 789). Already during this period of his poetry, Stevens has alluded to the "harmoniou!! skeptic" who could sum us up, aiid to the portent, whose "shaggy top / Broods in tense meditation" (OP, 68). Gradually these figures coalesce around the central hero as meditating man occupied with the problem of perception, that is, with the making of myth, the grounds for credible transcendence. More aiid more the poetry points to the moment of transcendence ivhsn the mind's fiction vrill allow the world to declare itself, \-:hQrL imagination and reality become one. "Slov/ly the ivy on the stones / Becomes the stones." Commenting on the line "time grows upon the rocks" (xi), Stevens equated time with "life" and the rock vdth the "world," and then observed: "As between reality and the imagination, we look forward to an era when there \
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127 else" (xii). That v;hic.h declares itself to be can only do so in the mind of Eaii. The mind and the world, then, come finally bo the music of the guitar, the wor d which both imites and separates mind and vjoi'ld — "The amorist Adjective aflame" {xiii)-<"the love myth. The candle of a single imagination "is enough, to light the world" (xiv). But what world pjid what caadle in this present age of destruction, both within end x-ri bhout? "Things as they are have besn destroyed" (xv). There can be no love in a traditional sense betvjeen man r>riC his world. The earth is no mother, but an oppresso.r-„ To create is "to live at war, / To chop the sullen psaltery, / To improve the sewers in Jeriisalem, / To electrify the nimbuses" (xvi ) . Stevens satirizes attempts to re-sacraiize a world like ours. Man is only an animal playing the guitar with '"clav/s" and "fangs" (xvii). Yet in spits of these "desert days," the basic longing of Stevens* poetry reasserts ibself : A dream (to call it a dream) in which I csji believe^ in face of the object, A dream no longer a dream^ a thing. Of things as they are, . . . (xviii) Such a dreara is to be founded in the strumming of the guitar and in the "touch of the senses, not of the hand/' an experience like daylight "in a mirroring of cliff e, / losing upward from a sea of ex." Stevens explained this last image as a "purely negative sea. The realm of has-been xvithout interest or provocativeness" (I, ?03)« But the image also has aai aura of the primeval

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128 about it that helps to deepen the spiritual .suyseBtiveness of the light on the cliff. The dreairi of thirj^^s as thoy are relates to the senses touched by the guitar, which in turn relate to the light upon the waters of a creative origin (cf. "The Irish Cliffs of Moher, " 501). The remainder of "The Man x\'ith the Blue Guitar" is lai'gejy given over to the abstract probleras from tho idea of the creative act of poetry as a foundation of a dream to believe in, Stevens seeks to r.iaintain the autonom:/of the imagination as well as to open that imagination to the declarations of an external world. On tho one hand, ho would "reduce the mon'jter" (xix) to himself, thereby being more than a mere part of the physical world, i^iile at the same time he would be the "intelligence" of the physical world and not himself at all. At times no reconciliation seems possible: the two monsters face each other: "tho lion in the lute / Before the lion locked in stone" or "Dichtung and Wahrheit" (xxiii). But there is also another suggestion proffered. Commenting on section xxii, Stevens wrote: "Poetry is the spirit, as the poem is the body" (I', 36j )• Seen in this v;ay, there could be a reconciliation: the imagination as intelligence of the earth would not loie its autonomy. Rather, the imagination both "tslces" ("sun's green, / Cloud's red") and "gives, / In the universal intercourse."

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129 More crucial than tho abstract racditations for the focus of this study, hov/ever, are certain irapli cations through the remainder of the poem for the living myth itself. "Poetry is the subject of the poen" (xxii). Stevens commented that he had in mind here "piire poetry." He continued: "The purpose of writing poetry is to atr-ain pure poetry. The validities of the poet as a figure of prestige . . . is wholly a matter of this, that he adds to life that without which life cannot be lived. » , . Here is a fundaraental principle about the imagination: It does not create except as it trsnsfonns" (L, 3636I|.)* The idea of pure poetry, just as the idea of the pure romantic and the idea of transcendence, transparence or transformatiorij. is defined by Stevens primarily v;ith reference to the religious, For instance, he observed that the "idea of pure poetry . . , appears to be, at least potentially, as great as the idea of God, and, forthat matter, greater, if the idea of God is only one of the things of the imagination" (L, 369). In his own poetry, from this period on, the idea of transcendence becomes more and more central, while conscious mythological and religious metaphors pi-=ovide an increasingly spiritual atmosphere. The m.ode of transformation becomes paramount.

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1':J0 The imagination, the self, begins to grow toward divinity: A substitute for all the gods: This self, not that gold self aloft. Alone, one's shadow raagnifiedj Lord of the body, looking dotrn, As now and called raost high. The shadc^'J of Chocorua In an innxenser heaven, . . , (xxi) The hiraan self is not altered but transformed through a magnification, just as Chocoriia will reinain a specific mountain in New Hampshire v;hile it grov;s into a mythic presence. Remaining sections of "The Man with the Blue Guitar" describe similar modes of transformation, as Stevens continues to experiment with short sketches with potential mythic properties. The scholar, previously a figure for satire, nov; reappears in junction v/ith the word: "A poem like a missal foimd / In the mud, a missal for that young man, / That scholar hungriest for that book, / That very book , , . that latined phrase" (xxiv). The artist as magus figure expresses Stevens' exuberance with the magical powers of the poet: "He held the world upon his nose / And this-a-x^ay he gavs a fling. / Kis robes and syitjbols, ai~yi-yi — / And that-a-v/ay he twirled the thing. . , . The grass turned green arzd the grass turned gray" (xxv). This primitive sense of power at being able to suvrumon a v/orld into existence is a step beyond

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131 hi 3 }5ypothesis in "A HighToned Old Christian Woman." Soon he will be able to say "Thou art not August unless I waka thee so" (251 ). But vrhile the art,^st assimes his god-like properties, he does not forget that the earth is filled with the "Rloom . . . LofJ the darlmess of the sea" (xxvii)<, He nevertheless emphatically affinns: I am a native in this world I\xid tnink in it as a native thinks .0, »..•••»•••" Here I inhale profoxmder strength And as I ain^. I speak and move. . „ . (xxviii) The guttural spelling "Gesu" (cf. L, 7BI;-) in this section emphasizes Christ as earth man, as the conoliKilng poem of this also does. The cathedral of section xjcix is another spiritual index. But it is "i.hat is beyond the cathedral, outside, [that] / Balances with miptial song." The sacred marriage is bet;.^een mind and that which :. ^ outside the catnadral, not within. Ihe marriage takes plac:. through the iuind' s search for resemblan.ces: "To say of one mask it is like, / To say of another it is like. ..." From v.' i thin the church, though J "The shapes ere wrong and the ?o\inds are false. ./ The bells are the bellowing of bull.^." The act of meditation on who.t is outside alone remains a good; "Franciscan doxi was never iiiore / Himself than in this fertile glass,'* Stevens coirimented that: he "chose a Franciscan, because of the quality of liberality and of being part of the world" (L, 78I4-), Stevens' own meditation seeks out the point of

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'1 3?. balance between reality and imagination, but his "point of still" within the mind is diaias trie ally opposed to Eliot's religiously orthodox "still point" in "Burnt Norton," which is within the "turning world." In contrast to the don^ Stevens portrays in the follov;ing section (xxx) the figure of the "fantastic actor, poet" (L, 362), the "old fantoche" vjho is in the world not the church. The cross that he eyes is a telephone pole. It is he who discovers that, despite its "instilliiients" ano. "crusty stacks," "Oxidia is Oiyrapia" (cf. L, 7^8-90), Stevens' figure of the artist as clo;m (from Crispin on) allows the poet to be both within the world a.nd yet protected from it by his own sense of play. Such a presence serves rji iriportant baltmce to 'che figure of the god-like poet, supreme within his ovfii imagination. But section xxxi makes clear that too much of Oxidia blunts man's response to the cock's herald of the new day. There can be no Oljmpia when "there is no place, / Here, foi" the lark fixed in the aiind. ..." Tlie balance for this cock of a new day will not bo fully realized until "Credences of Summer." The poem concludes with an explicit reminder that to be a native of the world and to dream the dream of the pure romantic, one must abandon the stale romanticisms. Throw away the lights, the definitions, An.d say of v,'hat you see in the dai'k ^ '-^'^"^e Complete Poems and P lays : 1909-1 9^0 (New York: Harcbixrt, Bi^ace & iVorld, 1962), pp. 119, f2f.

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133 That it is this or that it is that. But do not use the rotted names, (xxxii) The keynote is a freah spontaneity, an openness:, to tho "raadnoss of space , . . [and] its jocular procreations « ..." The dream is one in time, not of "Time in its final block" (xxxlii), and founded not in the future but in the play of the poet combining the imagination's night with the consciousness of day. The Mani vfith the_BluG Guitar volume concludes with two poems which trace the problem of transcendence to a new spiritual space: the iirimediate coimnonplace united x^'ith the ultimate abstraction. The poet striding among the cigar stores, Ryan.'s lunch, hatters, insurance and medicines. Denies that abstraction is a vice except To the fatuous. These are his infernal walls, A space of stone, of inexplicaDle srj3.ce And peaks outsoaring possible adjectives. One man, the idea of man, that is the space. The true abstract in whicn he promenades. (l8s) The problem oi' a fresh spiritual is finally the problem of relationship, of love. The false romantic, the "moralist hidalgo," prostitutes the idea of love by seeing in the world only what he cares to see~-his "whore is Morning Star." But for the "outer captain, the inner saint," he \^hQ can open himself to what is vdthout end v/ithinj love is still possible — it remains a "heavyfruited star" (18^-86). The final poem of the volume, "The Men That are Falling" (1 87-86 )j. is an intimate portrait of compassion, love made possible in the "man that thi^iks" v/hen the object of his soiritual desire is here and now, despite "the

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13^ catastrophic roora" of the present world, "God and all angels sing the world to sleep ..." but belief in the supernatural does not sing him to sleep. Such beliefs for him are "lost rerierabrances" : their "bells grow longer" only in memory. In their place is unfulfilled desire, "beyond despair, / Like an intenser Instinct" — but for what "he cannot knovi," In place of his usual response to such desire — his rendezvous with his woman image of love (cf. 237) --the iraage that nov/ appears to him on his pillov; ic ^he "head of one of the men that are falling" (specifically, in the Spanish Revolution: L. 798). This image is "More than sudariiim" since it is not a relic of the past but a living icon of the present,*^ Unlike his intei'ior paronour v;ho speaks to him, this man "spoke only by doing v;hat he did." He died for his desire for "God and all angels,'' not knowing that in reality "death was his belief though death is a stone." Taste of the blood upon his martyred lips, pensioners, demagogues and pay-men I These are the people vjho have perverted this Kf/ityr's love of life to a belief in death. "This nan loved earth, not heaven, enough to die." The poem and the voiurae concludes with "the dreamer, bent / Over woi'ds that are life's voluble ^ Cf. V;. B. Yeats, "Veronica's Napkin," The Collected Poems (New York: Macraillan, 195^), p. ^SB^ This poem is also based on a contrast between "The Father ana His angelic hierarchy" aiid the living "pattern on a napkin dipped in blood."

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utterance'-^-Hords which uttor life, belief which mako^ possiblG, even in this room, love in man.

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GHAPTfiR V THE "LAST AND TaLLSST liERO": P ARTS OF A WORLD AIJD liO'i'IiS TO.vkRD A SUPREIfe. FICTION The year 1 9i|-2 saw the publication of P arts of a World , "Notes toward a Supreme i^cticn, " and Stevens' first major essay, "The Noble Rider and the Sound of Wordo." A3.1 three efforts were toward the founding of a groundwork for Stevens' belief in the imagination, and they all pivot on the idea of the "center" or the "central."' No longer simply a matter for Stevens of the poet's creating his personal world, now at stake is the idea of the imaginatiori ns God and the creation of a world for man. Not uiitil Stevens could imagine himself into the role of the poei; as here was 2 the full mythic potential of his poetry to be realized. Stevens' letters during this period through ^^^2 show him still occupied with the ideas of transcendence and a pure romantic, matters which he now discussed in terms of For a brief illustration of Stevens' ov,-ii attitude toward his idea of the "center," see NA, Vi5-'it). ^ Of. Joseph Campbell, The Her o yrith a Thou sand Faces, p. i^O. In view of Stevens' eventual identification of the imagination and God and his central concern with th iion the external world, note: "the two — the hero and his ultimate god, the seeker and the found — are thus understood as the outside and inside of a single, self -mirrored mys eery, v/hich is identified with the myster-y of the manifest \TOrld„" 1 36

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1 37 tlio idea of the center. Referring to the tiirie during vrhich ho "began to feel roimd for a new roraaiiticiEm, " he vrrote, "I began to feel that I v.-as on the edge: that I vmnted to get to the center. ... I have been interested in what raight be described as an attempt to achieve the normal, the central, , . , Of co^irse, I don't agree witli the people who say that I live in a world of my own; I think that I aui perfectly normal, but I see that there is a center" (L,, 3S-) » The idea of the central is closely related ior Stevens to the spiritual aspect of poetry and the heroic nobilit-^of the central poet. For instance, he observed: The major poetic idea in the world is and al'i>rays has been the idea of God. One of the visible movements of the moderij. imagination is Ihe movement aws.y from the idea of God, The poetry that created the idea of God will either adapt it to our different intelligence, or create a substitute for it, or make it unnecessai-y. These alternatives probably mean the same thing, but the intention is not to foster a cult. The kno\-rXsdge of poetry is a part of x^hilosophy, and a part of science; the import of poetry is the import of the spirit. The figures of the essential poet should be spiritual figures, (L, 37^) The spiritual figuration of Stevens' o\m poetry is, as we have seen, from jlairoonijgi on, anchored in a primitivelike abstraction consisting largely of imagery of elemental nature. Now during this period leading to Parts of a V/orld, Stevens went on to consciously link his concoms over spiritual belief and the nobility of the poet -with man's urge to poetry. Commenting on "On an Old Hor-n" (230), he

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13B wrot'? of the survivals of the thinlring of our priruitive state, . » . [ojno has, after all, oiily one's oivr;. hoj'Ti on v;hich to toot, one's own s^ai thesis on which to rely; one's o\m fortitude of spirit is the only "fester Burg"; without that fortitude one lives in chaos, , . . The order of the jpirit is the only music of the spheres: or, rather, the only music. ... It follov;s that a lion roaring in a desert and a boy whistling in the dark are alike, playing old horns: an old horn, perhaps the oldest horn. (L, L[.03-0l\.) The idea of poetry, then, is centered by Stevens not only within the framework of the good sense of civilisation but also in the depths of instinct, especially the primitive urge to imaginative order. The figure of the central artist, both as thinking man and primitive musician or chanter, is tbo primary mythic presence to develop in Parts of a V.'or? Ld. And as this imago of tho poet as hero develops, other old 0216. now themes become constellated abo\5.t it, preparing the stage for the longer mythic poems of his final three voliiiues of poetry. On the primitive side, tho emphasis on openness to earth continues to develop in this volume along x-.'ith the attitude of game and play (so pronoimced in "The Man with the Blue Guitar"). The opening poem, "parochial Theme" (191-92). recalls the playfulness of "A ffigh-Toned Old Christian Womaji" as well as the abstract sense of the outdoors in "Ploughing or. Sunday." There is a joyous acceptance of the natural that acknowledges but is undimnaed by the thought of death. In thin primitive forest of "heavy trees . , . gj.-*unting, shuffling branches . , . blue -green

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139 pinen,*^ the poet acclaims^ "this health i& holy, / This halloo, halloo, halloo , . . This barbarous chanting of what is atrong. « . . '' This is the only scene for salvation, here where "There's no siich thing as life; or if there is, / It is faster than the weather, faster than / Any character." The concluding advice is: "Piece the wor] d together, boys, but not vrith your hands.'' This is iust what "Parts of a Vtorld " attempts to do. The world is pieced together with vrords, but -rfords also awaken our sense of the world's chaos. The irapertect is our paradise Note that, in this bitterness, delight. Since the imperfect is so hot in us. Lies in flavred word and stubborn sounds, (1 9i^.} Stevens' rage for order is also a rage for the chaos of bars earxh. In ''On an Old Hor-n" (23C), the bird conjugates "Pipperoo, pippera, pippernm" v/hile the stars fly "like insects of fire in a cavern of night. „ . ," True disorder is not experience of chaos; it results from the violent orders of old "when the bishops' books / Resolved the world. We can't go back to that" (215)* When wo acknowledge that the "sqvo.rming facts exceed the so^uaraous mind," we can discover that "great disorder la aii order," A "relation appears, / A small relation expanfiing like the shade / Of a cloud on sar;.d, a shape on the side of a hill," Just as in "T]:;e Idea of Order at Key VJest," following the woman's song by the chaos of the sea, man's lights are turned on the

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1kO darkness, so too, ths priniitivg song on perhaps the oldest horn is the bsginning of a small shape. In the well-laiovm "Of Modem poetry" {?39-Ij.O), the poet becomes a "laetaphysician in the dark, twanging / An instrument . . ."--but, •unlike the wusician of the "Blue Guitar," this guitarist is placed fxxvilj at the center of a new stage. He coinraunicates to a2i "invisible audience," making his words theirs, "as of two / Emotions becoming one." The guitar "gives / So-^uids passing through sudden Tightnesses. ..." The idea of the poet begins to emerge in this volume as something more than the "harraonious skeptic" (122) of Idftap of Order . He is more also than the primitive magician figiire of "The. Man witli the Blue Guitar," who "held the world upon his nose" (I78). He is gradually becoming the hero wi fch a mission to deepen the quality of huraan perception through his words, Stevens says; Words add to the senses. The words for the dazzle Of mica, the dithering of grass. The Aracline integument of dead trees. Are the eye grown larger, more intense. {23l\.) The main thrxist of Parts of a l'.\3rld is toward locating the image of the central m.ind firmly iifithin the confines of the physical earth. Living people, who are "sensible to pain/' dD not want to exist in the air with the "little ov'l"; they tram toward the "cooks . , . clawing at their beds / To be again. . , ." They want the "sharpest sun: / The sharpest self, the sensible range^ / The extent of v.aiat they are" (2ii.3-l|L|-). Stevens defines this "sensible

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1 .'; 1 rsjigcs" more and raore frequently x-^ith reference both to the mind at the center of civilized consciousness and to the imagination as a primi.tiv9 force that can survive the dairn of day's realities. "The Latest Fr-eed Man" (20ij.-05) is freed from "the truth," or as vStevens says elsevfhsre, "The the" (203), 'Ihis man is content not to find a "doctrine to tlils landscape, , . , [T]he morning is color and raist, / Which is enough, ..." The sun is personified as "the strong vif?n vaguely seen," as it will later be identified with Ulysses. The idea of man and the idea of the sxin are one in the sense that the sanae force of reality gives life to both of chem. The ne;; man experiences what it raoejis "to be vjithout a description of to be ... To have the ant of the self changed to an ox , . . To knox-J that the change and that the ox-like struggle / Coir^e from the strength that is the strength of the sun. , . »" If the sun is swubol of the truth, it also represents a pluralism encompassing the mind of man. The freed man discovers "everything . . , more real, himself / At the center of reality, seeing it." Stevens' fresh spiritual continues as always to spring from the desire for prosential experience (that which is "more real") and to pave the abstract way toward such experience. "The Kan on the Dump" (201-02) "sits ?ind beats fxi old tin can, lard pail. / One beats said beats for that which one believes. / That's what one wants to get near," Again, the

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\h2 oldest horn is playod in the dark with chaos on one side and presence on the other. Bub only by acknovjledging the finality of othexTiess is either chaos or presence possible; "On the Road Hone" (203-OLi.) is an explicit stateraent of this cornerstone of Stevens' belief. An intimate, recapturing of a dialogue with his interior self, the poe.-n is also an abstract portrait of the intimate side of earth's presence. It v;as when I said, "There is no such thing as the truth," That the grapes seeraed fatter. The fo.x ran out of his hole. You . . . You said, "Tiiei'e are many truths, But thsy are not parts of a truth," Then the tree, at night, begGji to change, Smoking through green and smoking blue. We v;ere U'lo figures in e woodc We said vie stood alone. It was when I said, "V/ords are not forms of a single word. In the suiii of the parts, there are only the parts. The world must be measured by eye''; It was when you said, "The idols have seen lots of poverty. Snakes and gold and lice. But not the truth"; It was at that time, that the silence was largest And longest, the night v.'as roundest. The fragrance of the autumn v;armest. Closest and strongest. The concept of the truth or the V/ord is founded on ajx idea of ultimate unity, tho belief in a final abstraction beyond the mlad. It robs all separate elements of their finality as it destroys the finality of individual words, B-at

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1^13 Stevens maintains "there arc^ only the parts": the two selves, the grapes, the words-the disparate reaj.itie? of a presentia]. world, a fresh spiritual space in the darloiess. Stevens takes stock of the abstract framework of his belief in "Asides on the Oboe" (250-5"'). The poem provides a notewoi'bhy linking up of Stevens' idea of central raan with tho spiritual dimension of the art of perception. If "final belief / Must be in a fiction , . ."it cannot be in the "obsoletG fiction" of projected sods. Belief be in the idea of man, the creator of the gods. This abstraction is the living one for our : •The philosophers' man alone still v;alks in dew. Still by the sea-side mutters milky lines Concerning an immaculate imagery. Ho is the "central man^ the huraan globe, rosponsivG / As a mirror vrith a voice, the ma:i of glass^ / VAio in a mi. Hi on diamonds siaras us up." He is the full creative capacity of mail, the glass through which individual men see themselves and their v;orlds. Through the idea of Man alone can men recover a sense of sacred presence, the transcendence or transparence for x^rhich Stevens has sought. He is the transparence of the place in i>rhich He is and in his poems we find peace. Through his art — his "hautboy" and his poems — he provides a v?ay of sights iv'hich is to say that he creates the world that we live in by speaiiing it into existence, saying, "Thou artnot Ai...;i,ust vtnless I make thee so." Ey becoming the I of the creator,, ms.n creates the thou of the vjorld. Physical

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1 kh reality wil?. rendezvous with hirc alone (cuckolding its obyolete lovers) for the union which is also a fresh incarnation. Clandestine steps upon irriagined stairs ClD.rab through the night, because his cuckoos call. In time of "death and war, " the failure of traditional, romantic myth, the "jasmine scent, " is all the more obvious. In a letter to Ki Simons, December, 1939 ("Asides" was first published in December, 19ifO), Stevens approvingly referred to the idea of the "primordial iraportance of spiritual valuss in time of war" (L, jl\-C>). IVhen "jasmine islands'' become "bloody martyrdoms, " men no longer respond to the Idea of providential gods. "V/e fomid the sum of mon„ »^'e fovtnd, / If v.e found che central evil, the central good." Therefore the fallen are buried "without jasmine crowiis.'' God has alvjays suffered everything for menj now men know that they have suffered with hii.!, that "\^e t.nd the fiiair'ond globe at last were one." Although the jasmine does not return., the idea of Man can norv be believed in "without, extorsial reference." II Par ts o f gV.'c rld, like all his pociLrVy abunoaaitly illustrates that for Stevens both the way to the idea of t?ie center and the v;ay to experience of Oj.emental earth require decreation of stale abstractions or iv^ays of sight. As he sey5 in "The Man on the Oa;?;p" (201-03), "The dump i? f-oll /

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1U5 Of liaages. Days pass like papers i'rom a pror,s." But when "Qae reject 3 / The trash. That's the moment v/hen the moon creeps up / To the bubbling of bassoons," Rajection of the trash msans satire, and in this volumo Stevens' de-creation frequently takes the form of difficult, allusive, short poems based on satirical contrast. For instance, '"Arcades of Philadelphia the Past" (225-26) presents a view through the arcades of Philadelphia, & city associated with early Christianity ( Revelatio n, III, 7-12), hut in the present merely a city "that the spiders ate"--an image depicting spiderwebs among cnambling masonry. The Meaning of the poem depends on the reader's association of Vallombrosa, strawberriej'f and the Apennines with medieval Christianity,^ The poem's fins-l lines conclude this allusive satire of otherworldly oriented religion: The strawberries once in the Apennines , . , They seem a litt].e painted, now. The mountains are scratched an.d used, clear fakes. Side by side with his efforts at decreation in Parts 2l-±J:PS2:Jr:> Stevens initiates a force of affirmation that is based on frash e.Ypericp.ce of earth plus a sense of spontanec-ns speech. Jiist as Crispin v;as tempted to make the rejection of ths romantic into a false romantic of its oim,beccmin-, "tiho "searcher for the fecund rainimuja" (35), so boo, in ''Landscape with Boat" (2[j.1 ~i|.3), the "anti-master man. See H„ D. Ackerraan. "btevens' 'Arcades of Philadelphia the Fast,'" The Explic ator, 2l\. (1966), No, 80a

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1U6 floribund ascetic," is a "Nabob / Of bones. . II He brushed av/ay the thxmder, then the clouds. Then the colossal illusion of heaven. Yet scill The sky was blue. He wanted imperceptible air. Ho wanted tc see. He wanted the eye to see And not be touched by blue. Rejection itself can be ronaiitic if one posits a "n-sutral centre" in place of heaven and continues to suppose a "truth beyond all truths." Such a negator "never supposed / That he Kdght be truth, himself, o.v part of it, ... He never supposed divine / Things might not look divine, nor that if nothing / Was divine then all things were. ..." Unlike Crispin, however, this man, v;ei'e he "better able to suppose, " could enter a space that js more than quotidian. He could e::perience e. fresh confidence in his external world as well as in his song. He could obLiax'VO the "palms" end "wine," and say: "The thing I hum appears to be / The rhytlam of this celestial pantomime," Somo of the ambiguities of Parts of a World as a whole arise from Stevens' desire to .both spiritually validate the "part'' as well as affina an abstract, final belief. "The Well Dressed Man with a Beard" {2^7) begins with affirmatioxi: "After the final no there comes a yes / And on that yos thfi future world depends, / No v^fas the night. Yes is this prea&nt suii, '* But the conclusion of the poem makew it clear that after the rejections there can be no "One thing reraainin;:,, :lnf ol.lible, " since the mind "can never be satisfied." There can be no final yes for Stevens unless it is centered in the. ever-changing mind. There can be no belief

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1U7 for h.ira in the senso of an infallibility x^rovlding a "form on. the pillow" or an "aui'de above the humming bouse." On the other hand, "Mrs. Alfred Uruguay" (2li.8~50) makes her rojection into an extravagance of its ovm. By saying "no / To everything," making the taoonlight crijmble co "degenerate formSj, " she nonetheless wears velvet and aacc r-ds her mountain into "lofty darkness,'' Her desire for ultiir\ate bareness causes her to rein in her own creative energy, speaking negations into her donkey's ear-^vihile the donkey wishes "faithfully for a falsifying bell." The "figiU'e of capable imagination," v;ho descends the mountain, is "j:)resssd poorly" and is "intent on the sun*" His horse is "all will," rjad ho himself "impatient of the bells and midnight fcriiis." It is thie capable figure who creates the "ultimate elegance: the imagined land" — which is the pure romantic, the transparency. In this poem^ then, emphasis on negation and distrust of the imagination are moans of an a?icent into a false romantic; while desire for the sun linked with a fait 13 in the pov.'ers of the imagination leads to a descent into a pure "imagined land." The refreshing elements of the spontaneous and the primitive continue to develop in Parts of a VJorld as altei*nativtjiH to (or ways toward) the seciiring of an abf* tract belief. In "Of Bright & Blue Birds & the Gala Tun" (21^6), Stevens aimouncos that "some things . . . instantly and in themselves , . . aro gay / And you and I are such

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things, ..." He goes on: It is there, being imperfect, and vfith these things And erudite in happiness, with notning learned. That we are joyously ourselves and we think V/ithout the labor of thought. . . , Still stressing this immediate and emotional involvement with things, Stevens refers to the ''gaiety that is being, not merely knowing, / The will to bo and to bo total in belief, / Provoking a laughter, en agreement, by surprise," Such emphasis on a feeling of oneness with things Xp rare in Stevens' poetry, where the main stress is on separ-av-ing self and world. But Stevens begina to allovj him«elf this happy identification with the imperfect elements only as his decreation clears the tvay for svanescont moments of faith. His closeness to the elements was nearly disastrous in "Domination of Black," and "The Pleasures of Merely Circulating" offered litole of the sense of affirmative joy found in this present poem, "Martial Cadenza" (237-38) is an exquisite representation of Stevens* reawakening to the joy of the present moment. Once again it is the star of love that symbolizes his own capacity foi' presential experience. Here the star calls back for him the living presence of his past (as usual, shftired with his woman companion), "as if life cexae back „ , , as if evening found us young, still ^fouagj, / Still walking in a presence of our own." The experience that Stevens is tx'ying to capture here is similar to one he described in his Journal some thirty-five years before:

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"Tonight, there was a loKg tv/ilight and after dirmer I took a stroll, ... I could not realize tha.t it vJas I that was walking there, . . . Now and then something happens to ):ae, some old habit comes up, some mood, some scene , . , returns, and I return with it. But more often my days are mere blots on the calendar" (L, 81), The reawakened memory of the living past is "like sudden time in a world without tine,. / This vrorld, this place, the street in which I vjas, / Without time: as that v/hich is not has no time, . , ." His present world is for him like "blots on the calendar," filled with the silence of armies after the defeat. It does not exist in time; it is profane. "l-Ihat had this star to do with the world it lit, / With the blank skies over England, over Prance / /md above the German camps? It looked apart." Yet it is the star "that shall maintain-'-ltself / Is time, apart from any past, apart / From any future, the everliving and being, / The ever-breathing and moving, the constant fire, / The present close, .the present realized, ..." The star symbolizes love^ the experience of the sacred in the moment of In a letter to Elsie thirty ^ears before, Stevens related the same star to liis capacity for presential response: The vjoods along the side of the road looked at their height. And yet at twilight, in the neutral liglit , , , I did not altogether respond-my sensibilities v;ere numb --emotion sealed up. . , . But when the sun had set and the evening star was twinkling in the orange sky, I passed a camp. , , „ 'There vjere two or three camp-fires ai"id at one they were broiling ham. Veil, Bo, it may sound absurd, but I did respond bo that sugarey

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i5o fragrance — sensibilities stinted, emotions leapt-the evening star, tne fragrance of haru, campfires, tents. It was worth while, by Jupiter-J It is this capacity for heightened experience of an inuiiediate world that is symbolized by the star, "the vivid thing in the air that never changes, / Thougli the air change," Yet there is small evidence aivj'where in Stevens' poetry of such iriimedi.acy of response. There is spontaneity abstracted, as in the "Bright 5: Blue Bird," but littlo sense of immediate personal experience. His poetry, I maintain, is basically his way to such experience. It fiinctions as myth, that is, as an abstract gateway into a presential world. It is onTiy very rarely the record of en immediate experience, except for a few instances — mobtly aiiong his vevj late poems. The memory of the living moment in "Marticil Cadenza," hoviever, remj-nds us that Stevens' pursuit of the "origin and course / Of love" (18) continues. Two poems which emphasir,e spontaneity and sense experience refer in their titles to hands (a persistent image of sense immediacy j.n Stevens' poetry); "The Sense of the S3.©ighi;"Of-hand Man" (222) and "The Hand as a Being" (27'i)."'' The first poem stresses the casual aspect of poev,ic creation as well as the accidental nature of the source of the poem's celebratJon: One's flights, one's Sitfiday baths. One's too tings at: the weddings of the soul Occiir as they occur. ^' Cf. Vendler's discussion of "Oak Leaves Are Hands, " pp. 1I|.9-53.

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1 51 This surpr i.S'.-, aspect of both immediate experience and the vxriting of t.Le poem leads to acknowledgement of the ultimats surprise, the mystery at the source of the myth: It is a vjheel, the rays Around the sxm. The wheel survives the myth. The fire eye in the clouds survives the gods,. It is interesting to note that Stevens dravrs upon the fuiid of ancient mythologies to make his point that the sun outlasts its myths. This is a good example of otevens' reverting to pidmitive forms to express a living -nyth with presential immediacy: the sun _is a w-heel and an eye to the visionary perception of the primitive. V7illiam Tyler Olcott notes, for example, that ''the most ancient and popular solar s^TTiV'ol seems to have been the ojo . . . . The sun. in short, possessed to primitive minds all the attributes of a great eye gazing dov;n upon the earth, . , , Vieing in importance with the eye symbol of the sun vjas the wheel symbol."-' The elements of Stevens' spiritual continue to develop from and load tov.'ard immediate sense experience. (For a later, ra.ore extended appearance of the sun as wheel., see "page fiom a Talc"). 'rnls present poera concludes v;ith mere of the seine emphasis,. Like Yes.ts, who s'c tij^es v/ould be "ignoravit as th.0 daiv'ii, " ' ote-vensj too, in his sv/ing toward sonso im^iaediaoy, concedes that "It, laay be that the iguoraut man., ?'-'^ i"; h 3^ of ^ th^s ^ Sun , orig. S];ui^_Lo_ro_ of A].l Ap^es (191li..' rpt."Nev: York; ba.pz±corn, V9bPi~.~pp',~~2Q'S'^^'7^''^ Collected Poems, p. li^ij..

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1 S2. alcjie, / Has any chance to B:ate his life v;ith life / That is tha sensual pearly spouse. ..." The second poem, "The Hand as Being," pictares this inating^ contrasting ii: with an Eliotlike over7 consciousness. ' In the first canto of the final canticle. Too conscious of too many things at once. Our man beheld the naked, nameless dame, , . . At this pole of Stevens' myth, man by becoming igaoran.t unites with his projected imagination in a physical 'A-orld,At the opposite pole, vhen his imagination is god-like, he absorbs the physical world into himself: "Thou art not August unless I make thee so." The naked dome of this posm is, of course, another image of the interior woman, like the "paltry nude" (3') of Harmon i um , Pho, too, represents the active ideal, the capacity for love. Her livirig presence (her hand) ''composed him and composed the tree" {the extoiTial viorld). Finally., through his reD.ease from the tyranny of thought and through his sense of oneness \iith. the world;, he "lay beside her xonderj'ieath thetree." Just as the decreative side of Stevens' myth opens up the possibility of such intimate identification of interior self and external world, so also such immediate ^ The repetitive lines, "first canto of the final canticle" and "Too conscious of too many things at once," resemble Sliot'a lines from "Ash-v/ednesday"; "first turning of the second stair . „ . second turning of the second stair , . c first turning of the third stair , , ," and "These matters that with myself I too much discuss / Too much explain" (Complete Poems, pp. 63, 61 ) „

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sensation contixiues to fcrai tho very ba-Tls of the myth. For instance, in "Contrary Theses (II)" (270), a deaci'iption of particularities gives way to conoern vjith th£ abstract myth: One cheraical afternoon in iDid-autu.pjri^ VThen thc; groiid mocbarj.oo of earth and sky were near. Even tho lf-;ave3 of the .locust were 'je'.llow then. He walked VN)lth hityoar-old boy on hia shoulder. The sun shDne and ths dcg barked arrd the balvy slept. He goes en. tn dcsoj-lLc .vis search for a "final refuge": He walked toward An abstract, of v/hich the sun, the dog, the boy . Were contours. And although the "abstract wa.s suddenly there and gone again , . ." he spw it "plainly; / The premise from which all things uTero conclusions, / The noble, Alexandrine vorvc„" Stevens' poetry rarely records these mozdenta of the "weddings of the soul, " but the central raythic elements of the poems both result from and lead toward such experience. At night, v/lien the mind and the forces of the universe most fully interpenetrate, the abstraction of day takes on life as a mythic presence. In "The Candle a Saint" (223), the "noble, Alexandrine verve" becomes the green night herself that moves "among the sleepers,, the men, / Thoce that lie charxting fcreen is the nicht." The presence of nature ab;rbracteu in living myth is the "noble figure, the essential shadow, / Hoving and being, the image at its r.ource. / Ttie abstract, the archaic queen." The relationship between this force of earth's presence outride of mind (but experienced in the mind) and

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tho interior self is the subject of a number of short poems in Parts of a W orld. "Phosphor Reading by Kis Ovm Lii^ht" (267) discovers that "It is diffictilr. to read. The page is dark," Vflisn he reads, knowing "v^haL^ it is that he expectsj" the page (his reading of life) is "b'jank.'But since the "greeness of night lies on the page,*' the advice to the "realist" in the second half of the poem is to read, "not knov;ing what you e:r.pect." Then t.he "green falls on you as you look . . , That elemental parent, the gr»ien night, / Teaching a fusky alphabet." Prom this direction man escapes the projections of bis own expectations, but bhe language he learns from archaic night is "fusky." alien. The progression of the months in "Metamorphosis" (?65-66) makes tho point emphatically. Iftien still close to the living warmth of summer, "the vjind spells out / Sep-tem-ber, ..." But as one approaches the death-dealing, alien depth of winter, the impact of the destructive side of the natural process (the xv'orms ) is insane and with an inhuman vocabulary: "Nicnil-imbo." For Stevens, man cannot rest in such chaos^ even though tfie .p,x'oen earth provides the stuff of his experience. "Yellov; Afternoon" (-^3''^-37) i-*^ a poem of devotion to this elementa!! parent (an unusual instance here of the earth as father), but even this poem sv/ings back ab its conclusion q For another possible reading of the poem, see Doggett, pp. GO-81 ,

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IS pp • • « * to the interior self. It opens: It v/as in the earth only That he was at the bottom of things Ar.d of himself. There ho could say Of this I ara, this is -che patriarch In the second stanza, tho earth as father speaks to him, proclaiming human truths: He said I had this that I could lovo, As on-e loves visible and responsive peace. As one loves one's own being. As o'TO loves that which is the end And must be loved, as one loves that Of which one is a part as in a m\x-^j, A unity that is the life one loves, . . . Just as the female presence of the green night of nature falls on Phosphor's page, so too, the "odor / Of earth penetrates more deeply than any word. / There he touches his being. There as he is / He is." But the poem alters abruptly at this point; the male presence of earth becomes woman: "thought that he had found all this / Among men, in a woman-she caught his breath. ..." Man's love relationship lath the external earth is for Stevens always a matter of a return to the ii.'iage of his interior self: But he came back as one comes back from the sun T'^ 3ie on one's bed in the dark, close to a faco Without eyes or mouth, that looks at one and speaks. Although the self within is portrayed here (as in "The Men that sre Palling") as strange and alien, (as one mighit expect in a pof-m directed toward intimacy with father earth), nevertheless, it is she who makes love possible. Man experiences his world through the image of tho interior presence; in this sense, Stevens' woman is a mythic

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156 figure. She is oja essential living element of a mind that sees the world only through itself. In "Poem with Rhythms" (2i-|.5-U6), Stevens explains that just as the ''hand between the candle and the wall / Grows large on the vjall ..." so The mind between this liglit or that and space, (This man in a room with an image of the i-jorld. That vjoman waiting for the man she loves, ) Grows large against space. , . , Only in the image v;ithout can he come to know the presence within: There the man sees the imaije clear l y at last . There the vjoman receives her lover into her heart "And weeps on his breast, thou;^~he never c omes . The creations of the mind, like those of the hand, measure the intensity of the light within and frame the experience of space vdthout. It is no wonder that "the mind / Tui'ns to its own figurations and declares, / 'This imagethis love, I compose myself / Of these. In these, I come forth out wardly . « "^ From his svdng tov/ard validation of immediate sense experience, Stevens' poetry swings back to affirm the significance of the v;oraan within and of her images formed in the mind. "Bouquet of Belle Ecavoir" (231-32) is a tribute to the creative force of the woman presence: "It is she alone that matters, / She made it" (ths bouquet, the composition of nature). Only in her bouquet can she be knoxvn: ^ Cf. Cassirer, I^jythical Thou?^, p. 196: "the fundamental rule which governs all spiTTtual development , , . [is] that the spirit arrives at its true and complete inv;ardness only by expressii^g itself."

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157 "Everything in it is herself.'' Like Penelope, the man iij the poem seeks his love image in the phj'-sical v;orld: Eo\j often had he walked Beneath surrjmer and the sky To receive her shadov; into his mind . . . Mseratale that it was not she. But the search for love continues^ especially since each ne^f? poera adds to her bouquet and testifies to her active presence. But this she has made. If it is Another image, it is one she has Ktade, It is she that ho wants, to look at directly. Someone before him to see and to know. I.T.I In contrast to Stevens' voliimes of poetry. Parts of a Worl d contains only a fevr longer poems, and these are transition poems. They manage neiv-her the mobil<3 discursivenev'ss of "The Man with the Blue Gu.itar" nor the mythic depth of "Credences of Summer," They do, however, express forcefully at times Stevens' basic concerns with the meaning of perception, the idea of love^ f;nd the figure of the hero, "Extracts from Addresses to the Academy of Fine Ideas" (252-59), emphasizing the mind side of reality, viev?s the act of perception as a spiritual faith. "Messieurs, / It is an artificial world" (i). "The eye believes aiid its comiaunion takes" (ii). But the basic enigma of perception is not to be skirted. The confusion of "these days, half

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156 earth, half raxnd; / Half sun, half thinkirxg of the sun" (vi)., is requisite to the belief, as doubt is to faith„ Stevens' belief centers exactly in the act of perception: VJhat One believe.s ia what matters. Ecstatic identities Betv/een one's self and the weather and the things Of the weather are the belief in one's element. The casiial reunions, , . . The section concludes with an expression of a priraary article of Stevens' faith. He begins by suggesting that "if one wont to the xr.oon, / Or anyv/here beyond, to a different element, / One would be drowned in the air of difference, / Incapable of belief, in the difference." The earth is an essential element of man's belief. The mode through which the earth is experienced is all -important, and the mode of experience that Stevens goes or. to describe is another exaaiple of his urge toward primitive freshness: And then returning from tlie moon, if one breathed The cold evening, without any scent or the shade Of any vjomsn, watched the thirties t light And the most distant, single color, about to change , And naked of any illusion, in poverty. In the exactest poverty, if then One breathed the cold evening, the deepest inhalation Would come from that return to the subtle centre. (vii) Returning to the earth in poverty, stripped of his myths, man discovers the earth in its "first idea" as the sourco of his rnyth. Later, especially in "Notes toward a Supreme Ficrion," Stevens develops more fully this notion of the "myth before the myth" (383), But even here one senses the

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1 !3'9 coming together of the moment of ijex-ception with the ultimate abstraction. "Montrachet-Le-Jardin" (260-6l|.) is a sensitive inqvdry into the relationship between love, belief, and perception. "VJhat more is there to love than I have loved?" If there is nothing more than earth to love^ then the earth is "bright, bright,'' even though the clock "clicks'* off oiir tirae. But if there is "something more to love, / Something in now a senseless syllable . . . Amen to the feelings about familiar things, / The blessed regal dropped in dagger's dew. . = ," Not only would the existence of a transcendent reality destroy the finality of immediate experience^ it would also destroy the significance of man's own thought, his "singular skeleton, / Salt-flicker," since man could never become the "hero of his world." Stevens' affirmation of the finality of this world correlates with his confidence in man as hero* It is "night' 3 undeciphered murmuring" that becomes the "heroes throat . . . Prom which the chant comes. ..." And just as the nlc,ht becomes the hero, so the hero delivers man to a "hero's vj-orld," Man as skeleton is man without the flesh of belief. It is he ^-jho "hears the earliest poems of the 1 v;orld / In which man is the hero." The idea of m^n as hero centered in a physical earth makes possible a fresh 1 Cassirer discusses the early epics in which the "hero is discovered, and in him the individvial man as an active and suffering subject" ( Mythical Thoug ht, pp. 19699), —

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163 spiritual space^ a "hero-land to which we go, / A littlo nearer by each multitudo, / To which we come as into bezeled plain. , . . " Instead of being ruled by the "speechless, invisible gods . . . from over Asia," nan's bolief rests finally on the "naked man as last / And tallest hero and plus gaudiest vir." Such a hero combines in him two selves: the interior self that makes love possible and the heights of consciousness that in the past projected the idea of the good into the minds of the gods. "But to spoak saraply of good is like to love, / To equate the root-man and the super-man. ..." The poem concludes with Stevens speaking in the first person, assuming the voice of the hero. He rejects his ox-m. former attempts to stress the paradisal side of earth (present even in "Siinday Morning"): "'A little while ox terra paradise / I dreamed, ..." But the mind is not content with dreams; man has a "mournful sense" that seeks out fact and must be satisfied in any new structure of the imagination. Bastard chateaiuc and smoky demoiselles. No more. I can build towers of my o;vn. There to behold, there to proclaim, the grace And free requiting of responsive fact. To project the naied man in a state of fact. As acutest virtue and ascetic trove. The items of fact that Stevens goes on to list emphasize the meaningless repetitions of nature without an external sponsor, but in the new spiritual space even these "cataracts / As facts fall like rejuvenating rain, / Fall down through

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/• ^ 1 D nakedness to nakedness, / To the auroral creature musing 5.n the mind." itoen fact meets naked self, a "sunsacrament" is possible, but the "one sense" that is the "single main" through which "life's latest, thousand senses" flow is the desire for the real. The poem ends with Stevens' usual reminder that this rite of the imagination, his poem, is an affirmation only of the moment; but as v^e knovi from his subsequent poetry, this linking of the idea of love vjith the idea of the hero is a cnicial step for his mythopoeic imagination. The final poem of Farts of a VJorld "-"Ex8aiunation of the Hero in a Time of War" (273-81 ) — instead of being a response (as the previous poeiu) to the idea of the hero, is 1 2 largely a dissection of the idea itself. In a sense, it concludes (where the previous poem begins) with the assertion that the "hero is a feeling" (xii). The poem progresses step by step from the failure of the heroic dimension in the present. Including the practical gods and the old romances (i-iii), to the need to express the idea of the hero to the coimion man (iii~iv), since the hero is the only possible gro^unds of belief (vi). The poem proceeds to emphasize the hero as abstract idea instead of as a particular embodiment (vii-ix), but then goes on to describe the This is an early instance of a figure that will become an important force in t]ie late poetry — the "child asleep in its ovm life" (OP, 10i|., 106). 12 For a detailed discussion of the poem, see Vendlor, pp. l51|--67.

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162 dangers of "dry descriptions" (x), which can be turned into "profime parades," starving the real spiritual appetite (xl). The "hero is a feeling" — v/hich is to say he is an eye we see through (xii), the all made one (xiii), an abstraction that yet is the "organic centre of responses. » „ , [And] To meditate man . . . Creates, in the blissfiaisr perceptions, / 'vlh&t unisons create in music" (xiv). Here Stevens has brought together the mind's meditation, the idea of the hero, the act of perception, and the "sudden rightnesses" (2I4-O) of art. The "highest man . . , embraces / The self of the hero," creating a mythic basis for the coming together of mind and physical reality, "the solar single, / Man-sun, man-moon, man-earth, man-ocean." (xv). Bi;t as in the previous poem the firecat leaps avjay, so too, '''Zlxaioijiation" concludes v;ith a wilted "bouquet of summer," only a remnant of the "siin-saerajnent. " But here Stevens hints at the sacr&ments to come: But vjas the suraiaer false? The hero? How did we come to think that autumn Was the veritable season, that familiar Man was the veritable man? So Sumiifier, jangling T:he savage st diamonds and Dressed in its azure-doubled crimsons. May truly bearits heroic fortunes For the large^, the solitary figure, (xvi ) The hero-world of the mind will not be separated fi^om the world of iic7iediate experience, and summer's mythic abstractioiis are due to take the center of the stage of Stevens' poetry as hs embraces the "large, the solitary figure" of the hero*

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'I 6,3 IV The gatei/ay to Traiisport_ to_^ S'.iirmer is "Notes tovmrd a Supreme Fiction" (380-1^.08), which was published originally in the same yeai^ as Pa rts o f a Ivorld, 191j2, but is placed iriisloadingly at the end of Transpo rt in the Collected Poems . Althougii this long poem adds nothing essentially neAS to the abstract contours of Stevens' myth, it does bring together in a single poem all the ideas basic to his spiritual, and they in turn provide the fr8iaev;ork for the growth of his own supreme fiction in his remaining poetry. Wow, as the ideas assume a fundaraental patterra that vjill remain to the end, I will begin altering my own focus to concentrate more fully on the accelerating development of the mythic dimension of the poetry, Stevens' more discursive meditations continue, of coursOj; bub now within a field whose compoiients are stabilized; betv;een the meditations the myth grov;s. It is significant that Stevens dedicated his poem bo Henry Church, especially in view of the tenor of his letters to Chiirch during this period. Stevens came into contact vjith him early in 1939 {L^ 338n.), but already on June 1, 1 939j he wrote him of his interest in "pure poetry" and of his "confidence in the spiritual role of the poet" (L, 3^-0). By May. 19ifO, he advised him to establish a "Chair of Poetry at Harvard . . , for the study o£ the history of poetic thought and of the theory of poetry" (Lj 358). In October, 19ij.O, he ivrots him that the "major poetic idea in the ivorld

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I6i| is and alv;ays has been the idea of God, One of the visible movo:iients of the modern imagination is the movement a'way from the idea of God. The poetry that created the idea of God will either adapt it to our different intelligence, or create a substitute for it, or make it unnecessary."' Ha goes on: "The knowledge of poetry is a part of philosophy, and a part of science; the import of poetry is the iinport of the spirit. The figures of the essential poet should be spiritual figures" (1, 378). Such correspondence glosses the opening lines of the poem, especially the "single, certain truth,'' the "central of our being," and the "vivid transparence," ' For Stevens, the single truth has come to center on the way in v;Mch the idea of God merges with the idea of man, resulting in a modern form of transcendence — transparence, the capacity for love^ for experience of presence. Both the poetry of God-man and the ecstacy of transparence grov/ out of the "spiritual figures" of the poet, Stevens assujnes first in this poem the role of a spiritual gviide. Ko teaches that the single truth, or the ultimate abstract, ?s symbolized by one of his spiritual figures, the "inconceivabio idea of the sim." But to see '^ 3 Stevens expressly stated that these "first eight lines have nothing to do with Mr, Church: they are by way of Introduction to the poem" (L, 538). The first line-"And for v;hat, except for you, do I feel love?" — is certainly a foi'm of invocation to the woman of his imagination. The relevance to the poem of his dialogue wl oh Church remains undiminished, though, by either of these observations.

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165 tho idea of the suii, "you must become an i^'jiorant raan again." Stevens' idsa of the igno3?ant or naked man doer, not contradict his emphasis on the mind in the center of civilized consciousness. It is only msxi at the center who can be naked. It is he who i;ould "Never suppose an inventing mind as source / Of this idsa [of the sun] nor for that mind compose / A voluminous master folded in his fire." The idea of the sun is seen in its first idea when it is "V/ashed in the remotest cleanliness of a heaven / That has expelled us and our images. . , . *' The naked man is the central man who realizes that the "death of one god is the death of all," To the sun is to kill it» "Phoebus was / A na^^ie for something that never could be named» " The siin here is Stevens' symbol for that which is, for final reality beyond the web of language. "The sun / Must bear no name, gold flourisher, but be / in the difficulty of v/hat it is to be" (I, i). It is only through language .that man experiences, however ei^igma tic ally, the idea of the sun, "The poem refreshes life so that we share, / For a moment, the first idea" (I, iii). This abstract, for Stevens, is embodied in the eax'th: The clouds preceded us Thex'e was a muddy centre before we breathed. There was a riiyth before the myth begt
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166 In his contact with ^arth man re-forms the idea in his living mind — it becomes an "abstraction blooded, as a man by thought" (I, vi ) . The poem grov.'s out of the earth and loads back to the earth transmuted in transit through the mind. As alv;ays, Stevens' discursive thcugiit arrives back at the moments of union between man and earth: "incalculable balances , , . moments of awakening, / Extreme, fortuitous, personal. . . ." ^ As he says, "Perhaps / The truth depends on a walk around a lake" (I, vli). The question of the first idea is the question also of xnan, the experiencer. The idea of man that Stevens goes on to develop in the conclusion of this first section of his poem relies on the image of man as lover-poet-clown. It is -he that reposes / On a breast forever precious for that touch, / For whom the good of April falls tenderly, / Palls dovm, the cockbirds calling at the time," This lover who touches and is touched by the earth is a "foundling of the infected past," when people did net Icaow how to love the earth. This portrayal of the hero represents an emotional peak for Stevens, He calls on his interior muse for aid: "My dame, sing for this person accurate song?. / He is and may be but ohi he is, he is" (I, ix), Coi'responding to the idea of the stin is this "major abstraction . . . the idea of '^ Harold Bloom, " Notes towar d a Su preme RL c ti on : A Commentary, " in Wallace Steve ns: A Collection pf GriFfcal Essays, p. 8'1 , in coriparing Sl:svens'^^''moments"^'""'Tro~ Wox^d'swortS"*"s, notes the "exhaustions that attend the increases of self-awareness in Romantic tradition,"

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•167 man," And like the first idea, the major iaan is not to bo namsd either. He is "More fecund as principle than particle , " The idea of the sun and the idea of man are abstract poles of a mythic geography, ultimate expansions from the center of those casual moments of union. The only figuration that Stevens will allow this major man is a portrait of an equall;y casual poet-clovn, "in his old coat, / His sD.ouching pantaloons, beyond the town, ..." Stevens concludes: It is of him, ephebe, to make, to ccnfect The final elegance, not to console Nor sanctify, but plainly to propound. Only this comic foiindling from the past can open himself to the sun of a "Cloudless , . . morning" (I, x) snd speak the poem that refreshes the first idea. The scene which opens the second main section of the poem is like an impressionistic drawing: "Violets, doves, girls, bees, hyacinths / Are inconstant objects of inconstant cause / In a universe of inconstancy." But the girls wear the same jonquils in their hair that their mothers did, and over this garden scene presides an "old seraph, " inhaling the "appointed odor." It is a "withered scene . . . that . , , has not changed enough," It needs refreshing by nei/ metaphors-"the pigeons [not doves] clatter in the air" (II,. i)» But the infortaing myth of this Italian garden is founded on the desire for permanence, not acknowledging or being refre&hed by the evor-beginriing and everending cycle

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168 of the natural vjorld.. The President can ordain the ''bee to be / Ijmaortal" (II, ii),~ but only statues remain "inhuman bronze" while the funerals tsJcc place — and statues are "rubbish in the end" (II, iii). "Two things of opposite nature depend / On one another. , . . Tliis is the orxr^ln of change." The mind and the world interpenetrate, "The partaker partakes of that which changes him . . . and the sailor ^md the sea are one," Midvjay through the poem and just prior to a sea chsjige, Stevens here offers ei-vcourageraent to his interior selX" — "Follow after" (II, iv) — vjhereas Dante, en route to heaven, offers his readers a warning (Paradise 11^ 1-'i8), Section v is an exrjwplo of the mythic scenic technique, which Stevens calls upon increasingly in the later poetry. Having its origin especially in the abstract story of "The Comedian," this anecdotal incde relies heavily on primary colors and elemental forms, imagery now fully endowed v;i bh a spiritual dimension. . The death of the planter has not affected the wild orange trees on the blue islsnid; even his three lime trees are now "baked greener in the greenest sun* " Instead of a plo.nted natxire, on the island to the south rests "like / A moiintain, a pineapple pxingent as Cuban"--a contrast to the "appointed odor" of section i. There the "great banana tree , , . picir'ces clouds and bends on half the world," Juxtaposed with the spherical shapes of order that survive despite the planter's death on the blue island of the imagination, the elongated

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169 sliapes and proci''oative tree of life provide the other half of the experiential v.'orld. Tiio artist figure (with a baxijo) remembers his for^ner living space (a less wild one) as a spherical melon, "pink / If seen rightly yet a possible red" when it is withered as in the opening scene. This artist is affected positively by the brilliant colors sxid forms of the \\rorld about him, despite the travail of a nevr land; death is no relief., only a separation from the '-banjo's twang." Iraaginative order involves carving out a moiacntary poem in chaos, but chaos is our native element and the source of our joy. Each living thing composes its world, saying "bethou me," Without the "bethous" there is only "idiot ninstrelsy"--soimds uninformed by the any spirit of order. But for man a higher sense of oz'der is possible: he C3.n recognize that which is beyond self as well as the force v/ithin, "Bethou him, you / ilnd you, bethou him and bethou" (II, vl)r Such separation between self and ^rorld makes possible the realization of love, the sacred meeting between these tvjo final realities: "For easy passion and ever-ready love / Are of our earthy birth and here and nov; / And where we live and everyi'/here vje live, ..." These meetings are our "accessible bliss," involving no more than "degr'ees of perception" (II, vii). But despite the fact tliat man I'ecognizes his separation from nature, as the "too xireedy wren" cannot, he can never experience the naked spouse without a "fictive covering [whichj / V/eaves always glistening from

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f<-' the heart and mind" (II, viii). Nanaia Nunsio is al^;ays to be stripped and arrayed in the same moment. Stevens' urge to expand the relevance of poetry beyond the domain of the personal is clearly in evidence in section ix, Ihe poet as hero creates a mode of being that spreads beyond himself (cf. 3[j.O, "An age is a manner collected fx'om a queen"). "It is the gibbojash of the vxilgate that he seeks. / He tries by a peculiar speech to speak / The peculiar potency of the general, / To compound the imagination's Latin with / The lingua franca et jocimdissima." He brings together the language of the spirit and the language of the senses. He sits in a "Theatre / Of Trope," taking part in the general "td-ll to change." ''The casual is not / Siiougli. The freshness of transformation is / The freshness of a world." The poet's role is to transform by refreshing, to "propose / The suitable amours" {II, x), the fresh spiritual that weds the imagination to its vjorld. The third section of the poem juvctaposes stale ritual and belief with the fresh spiritual founded in immediate perception. It begins by contrasting the "jubilas [siing] at exact, accustomed times" with the "difficultest rigor" of catching from the "Irrational moment its unreasoning" (III, i). The "blue ivoman" of the imagination does not desire evasive metaphors; "from her window [she names ] / The cors.j.3 of the dogi-/ood, cold and clear . , , being real . . . except for the eye, without intrusion" (III, ii ) .

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1 71 Avoiding the irrational moment, fonnsr mytns have been foianded in "A lasting visage in a lasting bush, / A face of stone" that is intended to outlast the weather. Resembling Keats' portrait of Satixm in the "Pall of Hyperion," this visage, too, is a mythic presence become an "effulgence faded," It has been "Too venerably used"-destroyed as an object too long of veneration. As the story of Jove leads to the story of Christ in "Sunday Horning," so here the idol is replaced by the stoi^ of Orpheus, the "dead shepherd [who] brought tremendous chords from hell / And bade the sheep carouse," But the children (who knew no better) paid ti'ibute to neither heaven nor hell, bat to earth (the carousing sheep) v/ith nature's ovm flowers, mul-tiformed and impermanent, "no tv;o alike" (III, iii ) . Stevens' ovm fable concerns this last form of love. Another variation on the fundamental sacrament of his poeti'y---the marriage of imagination and earth--this "mystic marriage in Catav;ba" takes place in the sim of "noon « . , [and] on the mid-day of the year" — Stevens' mythic moment (as we will see in "Credences of Sramier")., Although of course this is a humorous story filled wdth deligjhtful sounds, it is also essentially sai atastrpot^ a mythic shape, . The "ceremonial hymn" v/ams that "Each [participant] must the other take as sign, short sign / To stop the \vhirlwind, balk the elements." Unlike the face of the previous secoion vjhose hair was the "channel slots of rviin, " this perennial ritual survives the weather because the "groat captain loved

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1 72 the ever-hilD. Catawba [Bav;da' a land] . . . And Bawda loved the captain as sho loved th^ sim." Ihe male mind's woman end the physical female's hero, like Penelope and Ulysses, the earth and the sun, are "love's characters come face to face," Stevens' search (originated in "Le Monocle") for the origin and course of love among the fluttering things of the time-space universe keeps leading him to the moment of perception and the mythic dimension of experience of earth. "They married v;ell because the marriage-place / Was what they loved. It was neither heaven nor hell" (III, iv). In contrast to Bav;da's open desires. Canon Aspirin's sister lives in a "sensible ecstasy" (III, v) by rejecting her drearas. Her counterpart, the Canon himself, however, comes to realize that at midnight there is a "nakedness, a point, / Beyond which fact could not progress as fact," Cno discovers the pressures of the imagination when one is least under the spell of the physical world, but the Canon discovers also that it is "not a choice / Between but of." ^ Imagination and physical reality interpenetrate. The Canon Aspirin can only cure the headache of indecision by inclviding "the things / That in each other are include d, the whole, / The complicate, the amassing harmony'' (IIT., v.l ) . Still one more distinction must be made before the "I" of Stevens' lyrical self emerges for the first time in the poem 1 (^ -* Doggett, pp. 116-17, rightly compares the Canon's night flight of the imagination to the flight of I4ilton's Satan, and then goes on to contrast the Canon's ascent with the angel's descent (III, viii).

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1 73 since the proem J ^ If the Canon accepbs both imagination and physical world, he can still misuse the imagination in order to simply impose "orders as he thinks of them, / As the rox and snalce do." He then precedes to raise "statues or reasonable men, / liho surpassed the most literate owl, the most erudite / Of elephants." But; to project orders of the mind on the disorder of nature is still to impose like the animal no m.atter how reasonable it may come to seem: "to impose is not / To discover." Stevens goes on to declare his faith: To discover an order as of^ A season, to discover siamner &jad Imow it, To discover winter and know it well, to find, Not to imoose, not to ha^e reasoned ao all. Out of nothing to have come on major weather. It is possible, possible, possible. His poetry has recorded from Harmoni um on his efforts to open himself to "major weather." The e>:tent of his success is attested by the degree to which the later poetry is both patterned on the elements and open to the terror of what remains beyond the mind, for the real will seem "at first, a beast disgorged, unlike. ..." The only fiction that will not be stripped is this "fiction of an absolute" (III, vii), centered on moments of discovery. Like the "etem-xal damsel" of "Le Monocle," the angel here also "leaps downward," Tran.scendence becomes transparence during the "hour / Pilled with expressible bliss," ^^ Cf. Vendler, p. 197.

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I Ik tho rioinent la time when the j.magination is God, v/hen "majesty is a mirror of the self" (III, viii), l^hen again, when the Kind is viev/ed in relation to the "repetitions" of nature, t}ie "man-hero [may not prove] the exceptional monster, / But he that of repetition i.s most master." Even this participation in the goings round of naouro, though, is a "final good.'' Man would st.i 11 be doing "all that angels csn" (III, ix), althoup^ his communions in the gi'asn woi-ld would amount merely to the observation of a spinriiA-'.r; lr;af , Man's image depends on v/hether he is viewed from the perspective of nature or of the imagination. Nature's 5mage, too, as it forms in r^he imagination, is composed of xaore than repetition. It bocomos the mlx-icr of the »ioman spirit: the earth mother facing the interior paramour, each representing a frontier of experience incomplete and not to be named, Nature seen through a mythic eye is addressed: "Pat girl, terrestrial, my sunnier, my night." She is "the more than natural figure," He cannot name her because, she becomes t)ie "soft-footed phantom, the irrational / Distortion , . . The fiction that results from fe-sling." To name this "green . . , fluin.t mundo" (III, x) is to put a stop to change and cut off the dimension of mystery. The epilogue imderscores once again the centx^al theme of Fart s of a V/orl d and ''Notes tov;ard a Supreme Fiction": tVie idea of poet as hero. The soldier rcprefionts the active participating side of life. But his vjar ''endsc"

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175 The -ooet's "\v-ar betwaen the mind, and sky , , . never ends." Yet both wars "are one. They are a plural, a right and left, a pair. ..." The active life aaid the life of the jTiind depend on one a:!-iother. "The soldier is poor vjithout the poet's lines. . . . [He dies] mth proper words ... or lives on the bread of faithful speech." Stevens has brought together his supreme fiction and the life of the vxorld: "Hovx simply the fictive hero becomes the real. . . ." As the voice of the real, the poet-hero is now in a position to extend his personal poetry into the mythic domain.

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CHAPT3R VI "OP SKI, OP SEA, LARGE EARTH, LARGE AIR": TRAl^' SPORT TO SUl-a4ER The major poems of It an s p o r t to SvcTim 3 v — "ChocojTua to Its neighbor," "Esthetique du Mal^ " "Description v/ithout Place, " and "Credences of Supiaier"--are all heavily endowed with the auro of myth. Speaking frequently under the aegis of the poet as hero, Stevens both affirms ai'id negates from a trans-personal dimension: his becomes the voice of proclamation; his fables point toward a visionary depth; his imagery of elemental naturo is virit large as myth. The nicht vision of "Chocorua to Its Neighbor" (296-302} is the raaans of Stevens' transport into the credences of day. It is his most succor; afully sustained vxr,±ox)?:Xy creation, making "Owl's Clover" look all the more voodeno Yet it has received relatively little critical attention, even though it carves ou.t a spiritual space that reappears tellir.gly throughout Stevens' poetry. if tne po:)ms of P ar t s o f a Ifo rl d , along with the ''Ivt) :.o;s, " etch che 1 Por a somewhat extended treatment of the poera, see Robert Pack, vv al lace St evens , 2nd ed. (1950? l^^'^ York: Gordian, ^^CQ'Tl'~P?T~T^^^o^T~se^ also Baird.. pp. 226-^?8, "who v;rites that "'Cbocorua" "takes its place among the pri;~tary devotional posms in English." 176

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>77 abstract contours of the central man, "Chocorua" deepsns the conception into vision. The idea of central man, the poet as hero, is transformod into mythic presence-. The mountainminded man (like Hoon) nov; breathes the air forraed by the mo-ontaina of his ovai creation. The environment of the poem is indicated at the onset in the elevated voice of Chocorua: To speak quietly at such a distance, to speak And to be heard is to bo large in space, That, like your own, is large, hence, to be paro Of sky, of sea, large earth, large air. (I) Prom this distance and in this largo space, the idea of man (not, "armies" of men) could live as presence: "One foot approaching, oiae uplifted arm" (II). Reinforcing this effect of distance in space is a distance in time, 'J3ie vision occurred "last night" and is evoked in the past tense. Combining with the powerful presence of the mountain to form the laythic setting, the "crystal-pointed star of morning, rose / Ana lit the snow to a light congenial / To this prodigious shadow." This star of love appeared at the "end of night" and before dax^m, lighting the sacramental meeting place of imagination and reality. The night figure who came in an "elemental freedom" (iii) had also the "feel of day"--but "of a day as yet unseen, in which / To see was to be," This is primarily a night poem that prepares for the credences of day of later poems; the marriage of the night imagination wxth the day earth is, for Stevens, the sacred moment when imagination and reality are one, when

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1 78 "To see [is] to be" (iv). But altho^igh this mythic diracnsion can exist for Stevens in an act of individual perception, in terins of the world of men it is still of a day to come. Beyond the body's fcrxa, this shadow "vias a shell of dark blue glass, or ice, / Or air , , , Blue's last transparence as it turned to blac]c" (v). Symbclic of the deepest imagination, this darkest of bluos allows transparence. It is to unite in Stevens' poetry with the rock of earth in a mythic configuration of the idea of love. This "shell" v/as the "glitter of a being, which the eye / Accepted yet which nothing understood. ..." Seen v;ith the eye of vision tills form v/as beyond lenders tanding; it was a "fusion of night . . . And of the brooding mind" (vi).'^ Representing the "pure romantic, " this fusion relies on the dimension of mind that makes love possible. It is no wonder that this figure stood "as tall as a tree in the middle of / The nighx." Kis presence creates the mythic moment, the sacrod center,"^ He is an image that points to X'/here iraages cease: "Both substance and non-substance, luminous flesh / Or shapely fire: fire from an imderworld, / Of less degree than flame or lesser shine" (vii). Stevens' vision here parallels Yeats' "image, man or shade, / Shade more thai->. The figure exists in the dimension of the saci'ed, the space where "Night and the imagination [arej one" (OP, 71). ^ For the relationship between sacred time and space and the idea of the center, see Mrcea Eliade, Fa r tern s, Ch. 10, and llie Sacr ed and the Profan e,, Ch. 1.

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'f 79 man, niox^e image than a shade , . ," which boGO>-aes "Plaraos ths,t no faggot feeds, nor steal has lit, / Hov storm disturbs, flames begotten of flame, , , , "^ But whereas Yeats' mythic space is created by the city of Byzantium, Stevens* space is typically formed througli the natural elements, night, star, and mountain. Like Yaats'y Stevens' image also represents the sacred moment of pure spirit (imagination) when "all complexities of fury leax^e," Upon my top he breathed the pointed dark. He v;as not man yet he v;as nothing else. If in the mind, he vanished, taking there The mind's own limits, like a tragic thing Without existence, existing everywhere, (viii) Evocation of presence gradually begins to give way to proclamation of attributes— and these, first, in the form of paradox: not man but nothing else, vanishing and existing everywhere. To say simply that this is the imagination's unreality coloring all external realities is to avoid the element of mystery so pronounced here and throughout the poem. Minus the evocation of presence, Stevens' poetry can frequently be dealt vjith as philosophical abstraction. But acloiowledging the presential dimension bloods the abstraction: the mystery at the source of belief ±n Man and. Mind. In this realm, the idea of man is a shadow in the mind present everywhere in the searrjless mystery of mind and world. ^ "Byzantium," Collecte d Poems., pp. 24.3-i|i|.

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ICO The shadowy presence breathed in his consciousness from night, "inlialed / A freedom" (ix) in the absonce of day's strictures on the imagination. But v.^hf:n ths shadow spoke, as "daylight catae, " he mad<> certain that the particularities of the world, "the simplest soldier's cry," were acloiowledged, even during "moments of enlargement" (x)<, as part of vihat he was. The central mind takcjs its freedom from the night but recoQiizes firiiily the diff;" cultiea of day: My soli t aria Are the meditations of a central mind. I hear the motions of the spirit. . . . (xi ) There lies the misery, the coldest coil That grips the centre, the actual bite, that life It?elf is lik3 a poverty in the space of life. So that the flapping of v;ind around me here Is something in tatters that I caianot hold, (xii) The central mdnd in the daylight is acutely aware of its separation from the tatters outside itself. The voice of the mountain proceeds: "lii spite of this [the sense of poverty] , the gigantic bulli of nim / Grew strong, as if doubt never touched his heart" — or because doubt did touch him? Now catechizing, the voice continues: "From v-fhat desire / .knd from what thinking did his radiance come? / In what new spirit had his body birth?" (xiii). The Rnsi;r3r is: "Hecaiae from out of sleep. / He rose because men 'wanted hii.i to be" (xiv). To say that this presence has come into being because of man's desire is not to make him the product of vfishful thinking. This shadow has arisen as on image ("by da.y") beyond the "fona" of man bat definitely

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181 of men, "Excluding by his largeness their defaults." He is an embodiment of man's "power" and his '"•thought" (xv). ffi.s "starry head" was part "darkness . . . part dosire and part the sense / Of wha.; men are." This central man is aided ty "others like him safely i;nder roof" (xvi), not at the momatain peak, but transfiguring figures like himself: "captain . . . Cardinal , . . scholar" (xvii). They are images of the imagination, part "of the hwa^m mountain . . . Blue friends in shadov^s, rich conspirators, / Gonfiders and comforters end lofty kin" (xviii). Chocorua, too, is a h^or^an mountain (the real transfigured by man's imagination) that proclaims: "To speak humai-ily from the height or from the depth / Of hv^.ian things, that is acutest speech" (xix). The woman's voice in "The Idea of Order at Key West" also makes the "sky acutest at its vanishing." And Stevens prefaces the Heces^rX-Anjjel. with a definition of nobility as "man's spiritual height and depth." Chocorua goes on to make this vision of the spirit of man acutest at its vanishing: It is an eminei'Ace, . But of nothing, trash of feep that will ^^^gP^^^ With the special things of ni,ght, lipole by litt.e. In day's constellation, and yet remaxn, yet be. . .^ IXX/ Although this shadow is a "megalf rere, " it is more than the names men call it-."glubbal glub" (xxi), "metaphysical metaphor"— because it rests on Chocorua, "thinking in my snow, / Physical if the eye is quick enough. If ...

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182 The vision of the poet as hero is fin&lly a matter cf the iramediate changes that he brings: "an enkindling., where . , , the air changes and groxvs fresh to breathe" (xxii). V/ith a vision to believe in. To breabhe is a fulfilling of desire, A clearing, a detecting, a completing, A largeness lived and not conceived, a space That is ail instant nature, brilliantly, (xxiii ) As the imagination and God become one, the air of earth provides the sacred response to the desire for love. Through the vision of man, sacred reality comes to exist not in the eye of God but in the eye of men, "an in&tant nature." After the vision, the "great aims / Of the aimies, the solid men, make big the fable." But the night vision is itself the beginning of the fresh belief, "of a day as yet unseen, " just as the enkindled things of a pl-.;r'>ical world will also become for Stevens "part of the colossal su;a , , . Still far away" (53^ K The shadow is himself the poet as hero; he If "their [the makers of the fable! captain and philosopher, / He that is fortelleze, though he be / Hard to perceive and harder still to touch" (xxiv). Although be arose in the night imagination, " / The pleasure of his spirit in the cold" (zxv), )ie was still no more thaii mtaa. How singular he was as man, how large. If nothing more than that, for the moment, large Stevens will 3tre>3s the extent to which the eye of the hero is the eye of nature, the elements of nature providing the form of his vision, Vendler sees this "eye of nature" symbolized in the evening star, but she does not deal i^rith the vray in v:hich the poet achieves his "oneness with nature" (p, 283).

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18^ In my presencsj the compan5,on of presences Greater than mine, of his demanding, head And, of huraan realir.ings, rugged roy , . . (xxvi ) Though he is not the father (only a "bare brother"), as a "corapanion of presences" (experiences of the sacred) he it* more than of the mind. He is the guiding spirit of man's perceptions, not just imaginings, but "realia-ings,, " II "Esthetique du Mai" (313-26) is a confusing arr-ay of modes ajid tones. But it is unified by the drive to pi'ovido an abstract framework (both discursive and mythic) for e. spiritual relationship betxveen the mind and tho physios,:!. world of pain and death. In order for the presence of ivial-.; -rman to be the source of "human realisings, " there must remain no barrier between the idea of man and the idea of earth: mal is mal , the mind offers no escape. Helen Hennessy Vendler's appraisal of this poem illustrates tne danger of failing to acknowledge Stevens' primary loyalty to the physical earth. She writes that "Esthetique" "is at once the most randoia and the most pretentious of Stevens* long poems. „ , , The amMtious attempt r.o link evil and aesthetics was prompted conceivably by the same defensiveness to'^ard 'life' v.-hioh produced the epilogue to Notes , Stevens' most notorious attempt to prove that poetry and

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1 81+ life are interdependent." On the contrary, Stevens' poetry as a whole is his vm;y inoo life in a physical world. As the imagination becoraes God. v;ith earth providing the contents of this central mind, Stevens moves tov;ard experience of a presentia] phynical world. Ar;. aesthetics of evil is a crucial step rovjard raclaiiaing for his mythic space a major segment of human experience. "Esthetique" makes human suffering an essential part of Stevens' supremo fiction. Ho sooner does he estabiii-h that "Pain is human" (i) than he goes on to emphasize the idea of pain as a finality in a world v/here "both heaven and hell / Are one, and here, , , ." No longer can the romi^.^ce of heaven and hall separate the bees from the honey and ",.iwth from man. Perhaps "pain, no longer satanic iaiiijicr*y, / Gould be borne" (iii). But for pain to be a finality in the h\3ma2:! scheme of things it must be an essential element in man's central sense of his v/orld. Ho longer can. there be the good flowers and the bad flov:er3--"All sorts of flowers. 'IQiat's the sexxtjirLentalisfc. " Transparence (encounter with, reality) appears in "Variations in the poems of a single sound, / The ia^t. ..." Tiie "Ilot-hooded and dark-blooded" rose is CEpturod frcra nature to exist in the mind, but finally it is not the single rose but the central sense of nature that is ^ See pp. 206-07. Gf. p. 320. Tu 1^, vrhere Vendler objects to Flddel's clsirt; that Steven.^, was devoted to the phy s i c al \jo rl d .

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185 captured. ' Tho "Spaniard of the rose" would not "rau-ff , . . tho rrj. stress for her several maids . . , foregoing the nakedest patjsion for barefoot / Philandering,. ..." The "la£;t" v3ound of B. and the dark rose of the Spaniard are transparencies because they embody the riial_ of life. "The genius of rrdsf ortiine / Is not a sentimentalist." He is not the "genius of the mind"; he is the "genius of tho body, which is our world. " Another version of central man, this genius of the body is the spirit of earth, the artist who makes the dark rose of nature "exist in his own especial eye." Such trojisparencies, thoiigh, are momentary: "false engagements," since the "fault [of mind] / Palls out on everything" (iv). Pain in human. Acceptance of the actual world, including huiTian suffering, leads to a sense of unity (comparable to the "single sound" of section iv) that "Ties us to those wo love." Within the actual, man experiences transparencies through the "services / Of central sense. . . ." And "these things disclosed, / These nebixlous brilliancies . . , theao minutiae mean more / Than clouds, benevolences, distant heads." In place of the transcendent, immediate experiences of the sacred are composed of tho actual world spoken into being by the central sense and seen in an especial eye. The earth is clothed \^±zii the "attributes / /.'ith ^^7hich v;e ' For a reading of this section that starts from the opposite premise, stressing the particular and the central sense, see Riddel, pp. 206-0?.

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186 vested, once, the golden forms . . , Before we were wholly human and knev/ ourselves" (v). Sections vi and vii provide the most crucial mythic thrust of the poem, the first as a surrealistic fable, the second as a lyric spiritual. The firsb explores the basis of sacri change in v;ays of belief as that which brings the "golden forms" to earth; the second endows the now "vxholly hijcr^an" man v^ith such a form. Section vi, I believe, has been generally misunderstood. 'Ihe "further consummation, " the love relationship, which the sun desires is for the transfiguration of his own image in the night world of mind. But this image, the moon, alvrays "appears / To be askev/." Such "transmutations" fi'-om sun to moon are alvjays imperfect and transitory, since, as we have seen, as things enter the mind, "fault / Falls out on everything. ..." The night sky is filled with bygone images of such consummations, like the junlc in "Dezembrum. " '^ The "big bird" feeds on these traiismutations, such as the moon, but not on the sun itself; this "bony appetite" is the force of change belying every desire for lasting cons^ummation. The crumbling moon is a perennial symbol of such change, just as the bird has been a pyrabol of the " The usual procedure has been to start with the idea that the bird feeds on the sun. See, for example. Riddel, pp. 206-09, and Vendler, pp. 213-I5. ' Cf, "The sky is no longer a junkshop, / Full of javelins and old fire-balls, / Triangles and the names of girls" (218),

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187 destructive principle. Joseph Campbell, for instajv..-e, discusses "ar). important and fascinating terra-cotta plaquo fx^ora ancient Smuer, c, 2$00 B. C, that shows the ever-dying, ever-living lunar bull, consumed through all time by the lion-headed solar eagle. "''^ '"* Stevens' bird feeds on tho imagination's symbols of consummation, which transfoi-^ from moon to yellow flowers grovdng from ''turo_uoise leaves.'' Like the yellow acacias in section ii, these flov/ers are images of the night romantic that is ever viUnerablec But "in the landscape of / The suji . . « [the bird's] appetite becomes less gross. ..." VJhen tested by the light of day, the flowers of the imagination sometimes survive (at least momentarily) because of tho "curious lapses'' of the now '•corrected" appetite of the bird. In fact, it is the destructive bird itself that makes day possible: "The sun is the coxmtry vJherever he is." The principle of change at the heart of life, the bird that "Rose from an imperfection of its ovna" (or as Stevens puts it later, "As if nothingness contained a mitier, " 526), evades fixity, the "point of redness," Anymore ultimate principle of life is usually imaged by Stevens in a comic or surrealistic vein. The sun is "in cloxmish yellow"; the "yellow grassman's mind is 3ti3.1 immense"— elsewhere Stevens portrays a similar "ihtiuiuan p.uthor, who meditates / With the gold bugs, in blue meado;^s" (377) • '^^ The Mas ks of God: Occidental Mythology (New York: Vikingf 1 9^1}.), p. '^[£7

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188 If the bird of change avoids redness, Stevens himself does not. Prom this time on in his poetry, he frequently desires to "fix fthe sion] in an sternal foliage" (373)* And just as the God-like presence of Man as imagination is the mythic focus of "Chocorua," so here in section vii the "soldier of time" is transfigured into a mythic presence central to the poem as a v;hola. To miss the power and beauty of this dimension of Stevens' poetry is to fail to grasp the essential character of Stevens' greatness. Yet Helen Heniiessy Vendler observes: "Just as human condolences and love evoke a slackened poetry in Stevens, so does the elegy for the unkno^-m soldier. . . , Stevens has averted his mind from the visual scene and has fixed it not on 1 1 expex«ience bxxt on pious value." Stevens' visionary poetry is not fa.lse piety any more than all his spiritual poetry from "Sunday Morning" to "The Rock" is fake sacrament. How red the rose that is the soldier's wound. The wounds of many soldiers, the v^oijmds of all The soldiers that have fallen, red in blood. The soldier of time grovm deathless in great size. The "great size" of the soldier locates him in the same large space as the presence in "Chocorua." Once again, this is a night vision, this time of mortal and suffei'ing man. In no way does the poem seek to skirt the problem of death and pain. But if pain is human and man himself is the 1 -1 Vendler goes on: "It is a betrayal of Stevens' most ambitious aesthetic to name death a sijironor s!'aep, to call a vjound a rose, to palliate finality by a stroking hojrid, and to blur the tragic outline by a spell of Parnassian language" (p. 209) o

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i69 cnlly spirit he shall knov/, then the rose of the --vouiid of tij.!io must take the place of the rose of heaven and the "redest lord" (ii3. ), In a poem full of flowers, this single rose is the only point of redness that can occupy the mythic space vacated by the loss of belief in heaven and hell. There is quietude and sadness in this vision, but no escape, Txiis soldier has "deathless rest" on a Purgatory-like mountain "in which no ease is ever found, / Unless indifference to deeper death / Is ease. ..." Lacking traditional forms of spiritual death, the soldier of time continues to exist in the mythic space of man's own creation. As a transfigured presence of man's life, the "red soldier" offers men neither reward nor punishment after death,, only a brotherhood of the dead, moved solely by the wind and ordered only in the "mystical convolutions" of the soldier's sleep. The shadows of his fellows ring him round In the high night, the sur/imsr breathes for them Its fragrance, a heavy somnolence, inid for him^ For the soldier of time, it breathes a summer sleep. In which his woujiid is good because life was. No part of him was ever part of death, A woman smoothes her forehead with her hand And the soldit^rof time lies caM beneath that stroke. Minus an afterlife, man's death is a sut/joner sleep in the "high night." Mai is ma^:* and yet the \jound is "good" if it is the condition for being alive. Without a sense of cosmic morality, all life is innocent from a mythic perspective. There is no "deeper death" di\j longer because "A woman smoothes her forehead with her hand, , . ," This

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190 figura of the iiaagination is merely the cnaiiga of one era of belief for another (cf. 272). The soldiers of tii'na go eventually neither to heaven nor hell but into the mythic form of raoi*tal man., who sleeps perpetually in the summer night and, of course, exists only in the minds of living men. Seen rightly, the soldier of time is another element of Stevens' poetic myth, Tlrie remainder of "Esthetiquo" inakes clear the extent to which this myth develops from and leads to a physical vrorld. As early as "Le Monocle" Stevens had confronted the problem of affirming a spiritual dimension within a world of age and death. In discursive form, he annoimced in "Sunday Morning": "Death i.5 the mother of beauty," But from "Esthetique" on, the place of suffering and death as presential force in Stevens' myth is assured. The dying soldier, who first appears with emotional irmij.ediacy In "The Men that Are Palling," becomes now the "soldier of time"--a mythic abstraction growing out of the ipimediate world and leading back into it. In contrast, the phantom believers in pure spirit are "without place / Like silver in the sheaohing of the sight, / As the eye closes. , , ," Stevens' realist does not close his eyes, but his affirmation of the ''imagination' s nev; beginning, / In the yes of the realist . . ."is carefully qualified with his reminder that the "tragedy, however, may have begun, / Again" (viii). Stevens follows with a series of juxtapositions of statements of poverty and affirmations of belief, "The moon

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19^ is ... a iustred nothingness . . « The princo of the proverbs of pujr-e poverty, . . . Yet we require / Another chant, 01). incantation^ , . . It is a declaration, a primi.tiv6 ecstasy" (ix). "Life is a bitter aspic, . , . Tho tongue caz^esses these exacerbations," "Natives of poverty, children of malheur, / The gaiety of language is our seigneur" (xi ) . "This force of nat^ire in action is the major / Tragedy. This is destiny unperplexed, / The happiest enemy" (xili). Beneath the "no" to otherv/orldiy beliefs and notions of immortal spirit lies the "yes" to this world. But the questions remain: VJhat is the tragedy in the "iraagination' s new beginning"? '/Aiat ovoriill mythic form vrill the earth assume? The realist seeks in the "nostalgias," or myths of the past, the "most grossly maternal" image of earth. His anima liked its animAl And liked it unsubjugated, so that home Was a return, to birth, a being horn Again in the savage st severity. Desiring fiercely, the child of a mother fierce In his body, fiercer in his mind, merciless To accomplish the truth in his intelligence. The mother is both \/ithout and within. Contrasting v/ith Stevens' idealized nude or his woman of the imagination, this figure represents the animal self and the animal earth. She is the "softest / V/oman with a vague moustache . , ^ [and] she is as she was, reality, / The gross, the fecund. ..." Present from Harmonium on, but now more fierce and fecund, this earth mother will merge with

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192 Stovons' absti'act, archaic, green queer; to bacome ''Madame La Pleuris" (50?). One aspect of the tragedy inherent in Stevens' myth lies in the epistemology it presupposes. From the perspective of myth, Stevens can affirm: Reality explained. It was the last nostalgia: that he Should xmderstand. That he miglit suffer or that He might die vjas the innocence of living, if life Itself was innocent, {r) But j.n section xii, he acknowledges the shortcomings of living in a will -less absorption in the "innocence of living." Knowledge derives from categori;',ing self and world, self and other people. The hviman will demands either "Dringiiig the outer v/orld into the self or projecting self into the v;orid. But "Is it himself in them he l-aiows or they / In him?" The line between inner and outer cannot be drawn. "This creates a third world vdthout knowledge, / In which no one peers, in v>;hich the will makes no / Demands," This is the \;orld in v;hich Stevens has imaged his aolOier of time. This is the mythic space growing out of moments of transparency, but it is also a v;orld lying beneath or beyond the vrill and subject only indirectly to the realm of human knowledge. In this mythic domain, the will "accepr.3 whatever is as true, / Including pain, which, othervrise, is false." But believing there is no ultimate spiritual cause of pain and no liltimate spiritual satisfaction or desire dov'^.s not alleviate, in an immediate sense, either the pain or the desire, VJhat room is there in such a world for a

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1 93 "woman, / However known, at the centre of the heart?" Man. still desires the sacred, and believing in the finality oi ?.ai''th seciTis at tiraea to leave him with only "rocks" to love. Stevens' answer, as usual, is that there is nothing elsev And compared to otherworldly beliefs of the past, the new spiritual has everything they had plus the awareness that it In all here end nov?, ilot to believe in the oai^th in this earth-hound era means to believe In an irioa of the riiiud onlyf like Konstantinov, forcing the emotion into an "intellec.t; structure." Such an "3?:treirL0 of logic would be il.logical" (rSv) , Steven t' conclude a vrtth a iipjor expr-.;ssir>?i of his primary article of f;--.ith: The greatest poverty is not to live In a physical ^^'orld, to feci that, one's docire Iti too difficult to tell from de.^palr,. To turn aside from earth because it is not v;hat ons ar;sii-ed is to tur-n away from reality-the only valid grounds of belief.. Though man forsakes paradise, his ovm future on eartn opens to him: The adventurer In huraaaiity has not conceived of a race Co:;}ple.tely physical in a physical ^;orld. This is the thesis scrivened in deljght, The reverberating psalrn, the right chorale. Finally then, despite a irorld of pain and despite the clualisxus of the understanding, Stevens pinpoints h.i.s spiritual focus on the iran'odiate act of living, in our perceptions of e physical v/crld: Ai-jd out of what one sees and hears and out Of v.-hat om feels, v/ho could have thought to roake

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19i+ So many solvas, so many sensiious viorld.^. As if the air. the midday air, was swairaing 1-:ith the metapliyfiical changes chab occurj Merely in living as and ;vhere we live, (xv) III "Description without Place" (339-1+6) is ostensibly a discursive poem, although concise logic is not its forte, '*Essentially, hov"ever, the poem is a successful evocation of the poetry of ideas at the heai't of Stevens ^ fresh spiritual.'' 3 A careful reading of the poem is especially important for exploring that area in Stevens* poetry where abstract ideas assume spiritual overtones (the basic ground^ for instancBj of "An Ordinary S'/aning in New Haven"). Tur just as experience of the physical VJorld can through 'oho mind's fictions come to have a presential dimension, so ideas, too, can be experienced as poet?.'^' (cf. OP, I83f.'-'.). This poem is filled with hypnotic cadences and strangely simple diction not in order to confuse the nominal logic of the poem but to provide an almost liturgical tone as setting for the ideas. It is possible that to seem-it is to be. As the sun is sorat; thing seeiriing and it is. Vendler sa'ys of the poem's opening section: "If this ic' not the ^jnsTjotted imbecile revary, it is not fai^ from it" (p, 219). -^ In a general sense this might be said of all Stevens' ideas^ Por instance, Doggett v^i'ites that "j.riea in Stevens has a poetic rather than a philosophic function" (p. 203).

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1 9."^ Later Stevens draiuatizss Penelopo's experience of the eim both as aun and aa Ulysses. It is :ln tho "j^eemings, " in the expectations of tho mind, that sacred e:;rperiencfc is possible. Even though tho queen's name is an "illustrious nothing, " a matter of the mind only, nevertheless, she can be suirjncned by the "saying of her nsitie, '• ancl "her green mind [can make] the vrorld around her green^ " The queen here is .more than an image of a personal imagination; she is the imagination of an age. Therefore, "her o\m. seeming made the sxammer change." As a mythic presence, her image in the m.ind is the form through which man experiences reality^ As the "green queen" she is an embodiment ox natui'e; she makes possible man's presential experience of that phj'-sical world. Slie has appeared In the "golden vacancy" to replace the transcendent, golden, mythic figures of another era of belief. Slie causes "time" to exist again (as it does in "Martial Cadenza^" for example), and time is her "v;eek-day coronal" (i). Through her the sun can be experienced through a myth other than Sunday' £, which is rooted in timelessness. "Such seemings are the actual onos! tne v;ay / Things look each day, each morning. ..." But they caxi only be affirmed as "actual" now that Stevens has developed his idea of the central. The queen is the image of the imagination of the cei:itral mind at a given time. Behind the individual "original" perception of the actual in the "blind / forward of the -eye" is the "greater seeming of the

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f 7 96 major mind." The qusen, then, represents a "style" of the imagination, a "major manner" (ii). Such a view of imaginative traiasfortiation presupposes ongoing change, "potential seemings, arrogant / To be, as Oil the youngest poet's pages. , . ," Such a view leaves open the possibility of an apocalyptic future "in which being would / Come true . . . The intentions of a itiind as yet unknovmc ..." But just as "integrations of the past like / A Museo Olimpico ," not active agents of present seemings, so a distant future cannot be the basis of present integrations, "Seemings that it is possible may be" (iii). Kietztiche's preoccupation with the "discolorations" of dead myths nean-G only that his imagination was focused not on the present moment but on the "deep pool" of the past. shedding light only on those "swarm-liko manias / In perpetual revolution, round and round. ..." Overconcarn with the future is just as dizzying. Lenin banished the si%'ans of the past only to substitute "swans to come." He, too, missed the present, thinking of "apocalyptic legions" (iv). The "spirit's universe" depends on a "sense" that is "indifferent to the eye." Even id.thout place, this sense would exist, "an expectation, a desire," It is the origin for man of experience of the sacred; it is the final board of appeal "To v;hich we refer experience, a knovJledge / Incognito, the column in the desert, / On which the dove alights ... A palrri that rises up beyond the sea. ..." Stevens' increasing use of traditional, religious metaphors

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1 9-7 in no v;ay lirks him v/ith the letter of t-^'adi tionai belief. The pui'pose of images like the dove and the palm Iv. to create a fresh spiritual space out of a heritage of religious symbols whose otherworldly elements have been decreated. Man's special sense is not only related to the dimension of mystery captured by the metaphors but also to the idea of the central mind. This sense is part of the "difference that we make in what we see / And our memorials of that difference, / Sprinklings of bright particulars from the slry." (Elsewhere Stevens calls it the "central sky, ^' 375") "She importance of the future, then, derives not from apocalypse but from the "seeming" side of each moment of experience. Since the m.oment is first anticipated by the raind and then experienced by the mind when it is alread7y passed (of. OP 190-91), the future is the "categorical predicate, the arc," It is through the myth that creates the expectation, facing the future, that the mom,ent is experienced. Tne "old stars" are made "fresh / In the brilliantest descriptions of new day, / Before it comes" (my italics). The special sense, the "just anticipatioix, " is, then, embodied in myth, in ''forms that are attentive in thin air" (v) — the air of the mountains in the laind. Description is revelation. It is not The thing described nor false facsimile. Just as the figure in "Chocorua" is neither man nor anything else, so description is neither the thing nor false copy. It is composed of man's "-memorials" of momentary

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1 98 in.togrationr5, neither aun nor moon but the "book of reconciliatjor; foi" the two] . . . The thesis ot the plentifullest John" (vi)« The word of man does not derive from a preexistent Logos, althougli man's word is the "making of the v;orld. " Stevens' "hidalgo" is a Don v:iuixote figure of powerful imagination* ^ Bait unlike Quixote he is a "hard hidalgo" whose speech in a "mountainous mirror" of Spain, The emphasis here, as rhat of the poem as a whole, is on the cref.-.tivo imagination, but the mirror reflcjcts a physical world as well as the "hidalgo's hat." A style of the imagination is a "style of life, " although its "subjects [are] still half night," The immediate moment, of experience depends upon a "cast / Of the imagination" which derives from the past (a "description without place") and "portend[s]" the future, "alive with its o\-m. seeming, seeming to be / Like rubies reddened by rubies reddening" (vii), ^ The emphasis in section i on the green queen's effect on the physical summer is here redirected toward the interior universe. Description in red, like that of the soldier of time, amounts to a mythic form, "alive v/ith its ov7n seeming^" It is this jewel in embi'yo v.'hich Stevens in '^The first time the hidalgo appears in Stevens' poetry he is a comic, magnifico-type figure who projects his imagination x^'ithout regard for external reality: his "whore is Morning Star" (186). Don Quixote is of course the best known, hidalgo in literature, ^ See Vendler's discussion of "redden" (pp, 228~29).

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199 Kjmnor^um says could "Traiiquilliz [ej . , . The tormentr. of confusion" (27), that is, reconcile sim and moon. IV '• credences of Suxoiaer" (372-78) is the culmination of Stevens' transport to summer, his fullest expression of a "centre"--the "origin and course / Of love'' — that has been the aim of all his poetry. Such declaration does not preclude the dark side of his vision (as we vjili see in "Auroras of Autumn"); in fact, it makes possible a more total negation as well as affirmation. More than act of the mind, "Credences" is structured as a meditation but declares a faith through its mythic forms, a faith that began in Stevens' poetry with the idea of man and man's relationship to earth, and which grew through the idea of the poet as hero, until Stevens himself took the stage as central poet. \nien the ixaagina-cion and God are one and the poet speaks from the central sky, the result is poetry embodying the truths of summer, poetry as act of belief. The first lines of the poem parallel the opening of Eliot's declaration of faith in "Little Gidding." Eliot begins'. "i'Ildv;inter springs is its ovrn season . . . When the short day is brightest, with frost and fire . . . There in no earth -:ro.oil / Or smell of living thing. This is the spring time / But not in time's covenraic. c . . VJhere is the surtmer, the unimaginable / Zero summer?'' Eliot's belief

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200 staves at the "world's end", Stevens' truths are ypokcn on tjne "last day of a certain, year / Beyond which thoro is no':hiug left of tirr:e," PxDth enter a mythic dimension; but unlike Liliot's, Stevcua' faith is founded in the world of f-;enerat-; orj. "Crod'jnees" begins: Now in mdsiAmmer come an.d all fools slaughtered And spring' s infuriations over and a long way To the first autumnal intialations, yoiong broods Are in the grass, the roses are hea^^^r v/ith a weight or fragrance and the mind lays by its trouble. Sievons' 'Viidsummer come" replaces the "kingdom come" of the Fater lloster and depends for its existence en decreation of th-o' '-foo].!.;" of the imagination — both of the old, familial sprlrltnal order (cf. )\'\S) and of the personal memory. Tho "firigewci of 7HH-o.oyabrance" are "f^ilse disasters — these •?Mth': r-s , , o raothtirs . . . lovers. ..." Just /;.s he does in "TJ'.e i>ck, " Stevens here strips the rtiomory in oi^der to e.>:j.i;'. at o riupnerae point in tim.e (not timolessiaecs), which 1 7 is "fiih /irythi c riiojnent^ ' Only at Guch a jnoi'/.viit can the mind's fiction pvill togfttiior thepoles of 5,maginaticn and reality aiid "Fix itbein.l in an eternal foliage. . . „" Tho reality of sirmmer I (•• Co.;?i-o.lote poems J. pp^ 138-39. ' '' Of, Sliade, Th e :^ flcre d .,jji}5"_^ , j;he ?' '^o xle-}j:* Pp^-S11 3. "i^'OX' primitiv/e iTjsn Xlie rfytnic moment" is reachsd throua,h a z'itual reactuaiiz-ing of the cosmogony, v:'ii ch is desicribed in hi y liivth. Stevens' myth is centered in an ever incipient. ccsMOgony, hxs own poetic sr'e-crea-oions of the vjorld« It reprosenus cime,, not tha primordial moment of creation of time out of etej-nlty. In contrast to Stevens ? " day" of the .year, tho primitive tho beginidng of the New year., >;-hen "time that is 'new,* 'pure,' 'holy' . . . i.comcs] into e.xiabence" (p^ 76).

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201 la a '^i^t'bic truth; therefore, "Postpone the anatoray oi" syriinxiVy as / The physical pine, the metaphysical pine*" (jnl.iks '"The Man with the Blue Guitar," "Credences" drives bei->i;ath the level of argijsmentation as well as toward a more elevated conception of poetry^ It does not "play / The imagined pine,, the imagined jay" (lOij.). Stevens observed in retrospect: "At ths time when ["Credences"] v;as written my feeling for the necessity of a final accord with reality was at its strongest" (L, 719). The reality of the centre which the poera seeks is an abstraction: "Trace the gold suai cbout the whitened sky, . , ." Yet is is the "very thing. * „ » Let's .<^ee it vrith the hottest fire of sight J' It is both "fertile" and "ossential barrenness," Like the gold siuif Stevens' etex=nal foliage is the figuration of his myth. v;hich is both barrenness (the nothingness of tho Taxrxd.) axid the physical v?orld (sj.noe it is the basis of man's sigrjb)^ Uni'-ing the imagination and actuality, the myth foi'i'as the grounds of the real, the sacred, and brings "arrested pcac'^ / Joy of such permanence, right ignorance / Of change still possible." It is the source of transcendence, the end of Stevcin.'^idesire. Exile desire For vhat is not. This is the barrenness Of iho fer-oile thing that can attain no more, (ii) The mythic figuration of section ill is not the truth in the sense of "Tho the" (203). 'ihzt form of an ultiraate is beyond Stevens' ken and surrealistically syjibolized at the end of this poem as the "inhucan author."

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202 Stevens' sun of reality belongs to the earth and to rcan. His construe oion of his centre, though, remains the basis for experience of the sacred, nov; an earth-bound exparience, Eiiade observes that the primitive believes his "Sacred heaven and earth meet — is situated at the center of the world . « c an axis raun di. ..." The primitive bvllds his temples or "sacred towers" there where he can I'itualistically repeat the cosmogony, since the "cosmic mountain ... is also the earth's navel, the point at which Creation began," Eliade goes on: "The center, then, is pre-eminently the zone of the sacred, the zone of absolute realitj^. , . , Attaining the center is equivalent to a consecration, an initiation: yesterday's profane and. illusory existence gives place to a nev;, to a life that is real, enduring, &nd effective."''^ Still referring to the "very thing" that he seeks as "it," Stevens begins: It is the natural tower of all the world. The point of survey, green's green apogee. But a tower more precious thaxi the vicv; beyond, A point; of survey squatting like a throne. Axis of everything, green's apogee And happiest folk-land, mostly marriage-hyirms. Stevens' tower is a "natural" tov:er, not artificially created by man separate from nature, but formed by him in response to the elements of nature. The tower is nonetheless "more precious" than the elements themselves, since it forms the groimds of sacred experienoey a "point of survey" 'iR _Co^snao_£_and_R. l st ory, pp„ 12, 1.'+, 16, 17-18.

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203 ai^d an ''A::vi3 of everything," aiid opens onto a "folk-land" vdth "marriage-hT^^s." Stevens often has in m.ind a simple community of people eiid lend, and songs and sacrament (both pairs united by hyphens) J ^ Of course, the tower, too, is the abstract basis for marriage of mind and earth. It is the moimtain on which the tower stands. It is the final mountain. Here the saa. Sleepless, inhales his proper axr, and rests. Tlois is the refuge that the end creates. No longer a night vision like "Ghocorua," the day's sun ("Sleepless'^) can now also breathe its "proper air'on the "final momtain." The blue figure of the night emerge. with the sun and becomes an image of the poet himself, "the old man" "no book" between himself and the sun now that ho stands on the tower.^O m this fresh spiritual space man is able to absorb the truths of summer and be "appeased / 3y an understanding . . . "--not by becoming one with the sua but by feeling at home with it. Such a relationship has been all along the end of Stevens' desire, the sour-ce of his quest in love, and he is "appeased ... By a feeling C3pr.ble of nothing more." Tae "understanding" achieved in section iii i^: the subject of sections iv and v, which express the relationship ^9 Per instance, his interest in his boyhood past and the Reading of old, as well as his interest in genealogy, ?ea-hed J peak during his later life, a fact attested to by ?Se^nS^be/;f late poems referring to ancestors and spec.fxc place names. Of. L, 397-98; Baird, pp. 238-i4-2. 20 Again Stevens contrasts with Yeats, for whom the tower is often associated with night and books. Gf. The Phases of the Moon," Collected Pqem^, PP. 160-6.1.

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b-^tweer.'. the casually phynic&l "dayo'of U^e jcar imd the "day'^ o/" fchft 3 i.aagi nation, tha mythic aouent. Resembling the openix)g i-iection of the poem, the :jC6ne. in Olcy is physically ripe-"too ripe for enigr,iati," To be too ncuch at one with thiii 3? diT of the sutpmer v;orld (associated v;ith the poe.t's o.-m. paatj see L, 719) is to be stymied by the fathers, noc-hers, end lovers of personal memories» Too close to a land of "hay, / Baked through long days . . , the distg^nt fails the clairvoyant eye. ..." T^tiO inner vi 3ion--the "seco.ndary t;enses"--is met not with "evocations" but with "l>xsc sounds , , . of a language without words." This dirrxenfsaon of experience is "On^ of the limits of reality," th-:v '*.;tmost; " Mnd ra'ast be accepted as "good." The |=-reatost po-'Crty ie. noi; to exist in this world of Oleys;, bub to e:'.i&t in -h. ^rcit'j.d of days minus the single day of the imagination is alilcc a itioverty, "One day enriches a year." The imagination's queen .1ra;:,c,o cctenrdnes man's form of tolief sxxd experience (of. ^•:,'3/.j.; 3hO ) e ijut how does she arise in men's minds? Is she vcoj-oly the ''bi;uable" representative of eternity like hei' spj r5 tual cGuntorpart, the waji who is "lofty" and perpetun}. ""' The answer is that i?he arises^ like the figure of the nuV'J Lero, tlie "bristling soldier'" (v;ho is out-foxed by the weather of time), froi.:. the land itself c Her "more than, casual blue / Contains the year. , . , '" The day, the mythic ~^ Cf. "The Good Mjin Has No Shape" ( 3^=10 » where the phviiical Christ i.-^' betrayed by Lazarus from the dead.

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205 moraent, then, "Era'ichcs the yoar, not as embellishjnent" from the past ("souvenir") but as living presence o.f the present. Like Stevens' "Mack day" of section i, the day of the imagination, "strippevl of remembrance . . . displays its strength— / The yoixth, the vital son, the heroic power," AlLhough not lirrdted to the present (note "other years"), living myth grows out of the immediate world and returns to it its own power. Stevens' "rock of suriinier" is his o\m. vital centre. It is the visible rock, the audj.ble, The brilliant mercy of a sxn-e repose. On this present ground, the vividest repose. Things certain sustaining us in certainty. A mythic abstraction of the act of iiTimediate perception, Stevens' rock is a presence in the mind of the old nan on the sacred mountain, an image as basis for presential experience. It is described with proper elevation: It is the rock of sumrer, the extreme, A mountain liiminous half way in bloom And -Chen half way in the extreme st light Of sapphires flashing from the central sky. As if twelve princes sat before a king, (vi) The physical world is united with ths contral imagination in a modern incarnation in a fresh spiritual apace. In contrast to otherworld-ly myths, this one accepts the king and princes as finalities and exalts them as such. The remainder of the poem traces the rock's significai-ice for the spiritual life. Most important » it m.8an3 that the satisfaction of man's desire for tne sacred depends upon his devotion to the "common fields" of surrnnor. The ordered

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206 stages of hJ.3 spiritual experience can no longer be described by circles external to himself. It is nov; the self that is "thrice concentrsd" and provides the metaphor for a spiritual "Inscendencs, " that is, transparence. The self "grips [the object] in savage scrutiny, / Once to make captive, once to subjugate / Or yield to subjugation, once to proclaim / The meaning of the capture, , , ," The three steps correspond to the level of sense perception, the level of conscious v:ill (either aggressive or passive), and the level of the imagination. It is at this final stage that the spiritual desire is satisfied through experience of the sacred, the "hard prize, / Fully made, fully apparent, fully found" (vii). The new day of "the visible , . , the more than visible" is announced by a trumpet cry that is "like ten thousand tumblers tumbling down / To share the day," Tumblers are pigeons, and the violent power of their descent here in t}ie mythic dimension of a nev; day contrasts shaiply with the "ambiguous lindulations" of their descent "on extended wings" in the evening of "Sunday Morning." Concerning tb3 tr-ompcts, thougli, Stevens has a surprise for the reader, whose mind is "avrare of division" between inner and outer, yet sti?^! projects aii expectation that the trumpet's cry v^ill resembl? the impressive "personage" he has come to venerate "in the \inroal" (viii).

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207 22 Instead, the cry comes from an ordin'iry cock. -rha morning of a new day for the spirit ±r, also an everyday morning. Fly lov;, cock bright, and stop on a bean pole. Let Your brovm breast redden, while you wait for wannth. With one eye watch the willow, iriotionleas. The gardener's cat is dead, the gardener gone And last year's garden grows salacious weeds. The garden (both real and mythic) of the spirit is without its gardener and his cat (a priest image, cf. 2.$k) > "^i© procreative willow, like a steeple, is motionless. It is "last year's garden"; it represents a "complex of emotions" based upon an order external to the mind of man: "the spirit of the arranged, douceu rs, / Tristesses , the fxmd of life and death, suave bush / And polished beast, ..." Central to this arrangement is the separation of good ii;ad evil: G-od appears in the "suave bush" (Exodus III. 2ff,) and man's evil is embodied in the "polished beast" (Scodus XXXII. i|ff,). But the cock's sound is not to be a part of this complex (which finally is a projection of man's own desires), "Not part of the listener's ovm sense" (ix). In contrast to his early fear in the peacock's scream (8-9), Stevens is ready for this call, and will be again when be hears the "scrawny cry" of a later bird (53''4-). In place of the arranged, there is in the traditional sense now only chaos, an insane surrealistic play by ^^ Cf. Philip Wheelwri gilt's discussion (Metaphor an.d Rea lity , p„ 108) of the symbolic meaning of the cock in Eliot's "Waste Land." In contrast to Stevens', Eliot's cock crovfs from the remains of a chapel.

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20fi an "inhuman author, who meditates / With the gold bugs, in blv'.o 7aeadov;a, 3-ate at nic^ht." But in lontivact to hi3 oarly res}vonae in fear to the planets "Turning in the vdnd" (9), Stevens' present responae to the random motions of fireflies is a happy acceptance of the "huge decorum . . . the mottled mood of surariier's whole, . , ."'--> The vividness of the colorful end curioi.xs costumes of characters without a hUiV.aniaed author bespeaks their freedom "from malice and sudden cry." liore than red, they are "roseate" — part, of the rose, of a new mythic space where the human rscene is final. Tjtie shorter poems of Transpo rt tc Summer also explore the mythic dimension. Like the major poems, they, too, often weipjited v;ith elemental imagery, eitherbasic (as in the primary colors) or primitive-lika (as in thd forms and forces of nature). They, too, illustrate Stevens' grov^ing attraction to his personal past: remembrarice of his Ohric-tian heritage provides a parallel and contrast to his own maturing belief, ajtid his memory of the coxontryside fyjio people of his childhood adds to the folk e.avir
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209 no ro™. arising in that pcefa .nind) can also bo traood in tho .sorter poems. ^. instance, in "Sod I. Good. It I. a Beautiful Hisht" (265), th. scholar. s hoad is speaking in ,he light or the »oon. "seeking celestial / Bendevous ...^ Scuee.ins the reddest r.a.rance fro. the stu.«p / Of s.»«er. „ ^.„^„" f^o^.-'lOU the major man in "Repetitions of a Yoimg Captain (306 l^}, T^^--^ r.^ the <^tr'ersth / That sweats the i= "A.-^.couti^eA in a litt..e o^ tne .t^-eng •tc^o^rnin,. way / To giant red" (iii). Major men sun up on its rooming wtiy / to ^ are helievable fictions themselves. In "Paisant (..ronicle (331,...5), the major men "are characters beyond / Realxty, composed thereof They are / Nothing in which it is t possible / TO believe . . . more / Than Tartuffe as th . . . Tt'e easy projection long prohibited." AS a major man Stevens often expresses the desire in volu.e to spaalc beyond the personal as part of the ,ro«in. force of a fresh mode of belief. In "The Motive for Metaphor" (288), he reprimands himself for "shrinking from / The weight of primary noon, / ll>e A B of being, / The .->-. hfl™ner / Of red and blue ... The vital iTiddy temper, i-ho hammer / ox „t -.-.1 dominant X." The color red in various fo„.s increasingly dominates the poetry, bu. it is no longer derided as changeless fraud In a vorld of change (cf. 170). .ow Stevens desires the red and, as he does in "Estheti.ue, " himoelf «ith a nev era of activity that sharply contrasts v,ith the "Dutch Graves in Bucks County" (290-93). ^^e violent a.™les in the poem quickly become a force that -.ill

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210 cry like an "iiistinctive incantation," a destructive force thriving "In a storiii of tor-n-up testmaents" ajid composed of "raarchers" raarching "toward a generation's centre." In contrast to the preseiit violonce, imagery of the past provides a calmness for Stevens in which the imme^iiate and the jnythic merge. F'or instance, in "A Completely New Set of Objects" (35^-53) » 'i^he momory of a local festival easily turns into a rite in v;hir.h his friends bring "Prom the water in which he believed and out of desire / Things made by midterrestrial, mid-hicaan / Makers, . . . "'^'+ The canocrs are transfigured into a "thousand thoiisand / Carrying such shapes . . . [as] were the exactest shaping / Of a vast people old in meditation. , c ," But memory is thought, and "Thought is false happiness, ..." Stevens continues to reaffirm his primary attachment to the im:nediate eart)i: "the mind / Is the ey«,, and , . , this landscape of the mind / Is a landscape only of the eye" (305). The people in "Holiday in Reality" (3'12-313) knew that "to be real each had / To find for himself his earth, }iis sky, his sea," Yet the poet Icnows also that the "down-falling gold, / The catbird's gobble . . , are real only if I make them so," He tastes "at the root of thw tongue the unreal of v?hat is real." And just as in the past when the problem of perception arc .3 6, Stevens now once again turns to his central 2). + Gf r Samuel French Morse, V/allace Stevens (New York: Pegasuis., 1970), pp. 205-06,

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211 faith that t}ie earth csn provide its own "unreal" framev/ork in iaiiii'3 mind. Then the earth can be perceived through a inyth that has grovm out oi" itsolf. In contrast to the beliei* of "OHd Jolm Zellsr, " now "It is more difficult to ev/ade / That habit of v;ishing and to accept the structure / Of things as the structure of ideas." But this is the road that Stevens continually opts for. In place of Zeller's projections of cosiiic meaning, there is only "Darkness, nothingness of h\iman after-death" (336) to greet the fallen flyer. In such a scheme of things ^ "To say that the soler chariot is junk / Is not a variation but an end. / Yet to speak of the whole v/orld as metaphor / Is still to stick to the contents of the mind / And the desire to believe in a metaphor" (332). The world as metaphor, the earth as grounds of its own myth, is what remains when the solar junk is cleared away. Only then does the power and finality of otherness reach the mind as physical presence — and therefore as mythic presence at the same time. The young men who hunt "The Pediment of Appearance" (361-62) with preconceptions of v/hat that "sava,^;e transparence" should be miss the total alien power of earth: "The pediment / Lifts up its heavy scowl before them." But in "The Red Pern" (365)> when cominon day opens '*Its unfaiailiar, difficult fern, / Pushing and pushing red after red . . ." — then day and the myth of day become one. The physical is the source: "the parent trunk: / The dazzling, bulging, brightest core, / The furiously burning

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2( ?. fathor-fire. ..." The infant eye must waken to pierce the '•physical fix of things." The first stage of Stevens' experience cf the object in his concentric self, iiamediate sense experience is the prerequisite of a myth to grow out of the physical. Stevens' "fisherman" is "all / Cne . ear , . . all / One eye. . , . " Instead of fich, this angler might catch the dove, Stevena' ovm. syuibol of spirit and satisfaction of desire. "In that one eye the dove / Might spring to sight and yet remain a dove" (356-57). I'he beginning of spiritual sight is at the sense level; the spiritual dilrauna is preserving the dove as dove even as it is inscended to the level of the imagination. One way that Stevens attempt^s to preserve the quality of sens© experience at the level of the imagination is to combine allusion to past myths or other literature v^ith offhanded, commonplace imagery (cf. "Credences, iii, ix"). For instance, "Continual Conversation with a Silent Man" (359-60) begins: The old brovm hen and the old blue sky, Betiijeen the two vie live and die-The broken cartvjheel on the hill. The first two lines resemble Yeats, particularly in ''Vacillation" or "The Doable Vision of Michael Robartes. "^^ The third line echos Fliot's "bedded axle-tree" in "Burnt Norton, ii," The point is not how consciously Stevens uses ^ Gf, "Between extremities / Man runs his course" or "between these two a girl at play. . . . There can be nothing solider till I die" (Collected Poems, pp. 2l|5» 168),

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213 this device but how easily he moves between the folk-ritual side of his myth (v;hich is close to the sense world) aiid the abstract side at the heights of the imagination (such as the '•rook" section of "Credences"). Sense irmnsdiacy and mythic abstraction increasingly interplay to the veiy .end of Stevens' poetry, paving the v;ay for the coming together of the moment of sense experience end the spiritual desire 26 of the imagination. 2^ An example from Trans port t o Sumraer of this relationship between the personally Immediate and the mythic abstract is "A Lot of' People Bathing in a Stream" (37'i-72), in which a "dive / Into the sun-filled water" transforms into "floating without a head / And naked ... in the company of the sun. II

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CHAPTER VII "BIffiATHE FREEDOM, OPI, Iff NATIVE": AURORAS OP AUTUI'n\[ The Auroras of Autuiun (1950) is a continuation of, not a departure from, the main line of Stevens' development, which crystallized especially in the roajor mythic poems of his previous volume. His ovm cororaent on one of the majorpoems of Auroras ("An Ordinary Evening in Neu' Haven") is also true of the otlier long poems: "This is not in any sense a turning away from the ideas of Credences of Summer: it is a development of those ideas" (L, 637). V/hile the idea of death is more pronounced in this volume, it is still an axtension of Stevens' confrontation viith evil and suffering in earlier poems. The presence of death simply a.sriumes its place in Stevens' pantheon. Overall, the poems of Auror_as bulla on the base of "Credences" as they go on to depict, in avje and fear, the "roseate" and primitive-like space of Stevens' fiction. Along vjith a continued emphasis on the abstract orb of man's poem, there is a growing sense of rite in many of those poems, especially surrounding the idea of m^xi (and of Stevens himself) as creator. Finally, the poems frequently seek to import the idea of "things" of a ph;/sical world into the mythic spac's^ the image of life as a river emerges fully for the first time since Hajyionium . 21 U

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215 VAiile '"Esthetique" fixrss the idea of human suffering in Stevens' "eternal foliage,'' "The Auroras of Auturan" (411-21) and "Tne Owl in the Sarcophagus" (1|31"3^-) create a central place in Stevens' myth for the facts of chsjige and death. It is one thing to call death the "mother of beauty" and to announce that the supreme fiction must change; it is another thing to experience the death of friends aiad one^s ovjn oncoming death and to realize sharply that one's credences are but momentary stays against chaoG. Stevens aclmowledged that the "Owl" "vjas written in the frame of mind that followed Mr. Church's death. l-.Tiile it is not personal, 1 had thought of inscribing it somehow, below the titlSj, as, for exauple, Goodbye H, G." (L, 566), 'I'he remarkable thing about these tvro poems is that they both proclaim Stevens' "yes" to life in spite of (or because of) their powerful embodiments of change and death, Tlie serpent of "Auroras" is "the bodiless." He is less the source of change (like the "bony" bird, 31 3) than the fact of formlessness inherent in change. Existing in the largeness of mythic space, "Beneath his tip at night / Eyes open and fix on us in every sky." Even he, however, is not to be believed as ultimate: he might be "/uiother image at the end of the cave. , . c" Kis poison is "that we should disbelieve" evoi in him as "master of the maze , . . Relentlessly in possession of happiness." But if he cannot stand as an ultimate existing outside of the cave, he at least cannot be avoided vdthin the cave. He "lives" in man's

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216 scheme of things, "his nest, / These fields, these hills. ..." From one perspective, he is the dimension of mind vrhich const&ntly negates itself, "form gulping after formlessness.'' The serpent strands for the negative side of man's vision; the "lights" of man's imagination — as at "Key V/est" or in the rock of "Credences" — "may ... in the midmost midnight . . , find the serpent. ..." The emphasis, then, in the first half of this poem is on the "auroras" as lights which negate their own forms. Instead of "arranging, deepening, enchanting night" (130), they expose the chaos of change, the formless behind man's forms and earth's forms. Much of the poem concentrates on the dying of the old ways, both the personal losses and the vjays of belief, A deserted cabin is the "white of an aging afternoon. , . , The wind is blowing the sand across the floor." There is a personal touch in the dried flowers and in the "man v;bo is walking on the sand." But there is a more-than-personal dimension to the follov;ing: "Here being visible is being vjhite . c . the accomplishment / Of an extremist in an exercise. ..." The idea of whit.8 is the bodiless serpent brouglit closer to home-~still lindif ferentiated, alien, part of the wind and sand, but now also cast xvdth nostalgia. V/hits is the color of sleep in the "Owl." Both the presences of the physical world ("Credences") and of the imagination ("Key West") have dried up. The finality of nature and of man's need for a dwelling means from one perspective that man must be always in the process of leaving his

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217 abodes. From another angle~-not the South of the physical day b-at the North of the night imagination — the idea of change itself is heightened by the auroras, "frigid brilliances . . . great enkindlings" (ii), promising, truly 1 or falsely, a new day, a fresh abode. But personal decay and death is not zo be assuaged by the grandeurs of the traris-personal dimension of the imagination. Even on this evening v:hen the sense of earth as mother (the "purpose of the poem") is full, the longing remains for the "half [of the house] they can never possess . . . Stillstarred." Like a still-birth, the stars (the imagination) appeal to men to escape the decay of earth, but only the mother "gives transparence to their present peace." Tne problems of the "men ab forty" in "Le Monocle" are now vastly extenuated: the mother herself "has grown old" (since he sees her through his present age); the "kiss" and "touch" of the physical world are no longer vivid but merely remind of passing time. "The house v;ill cr-ai-,ible and the books will buiTi" (iii). He and the mother vrili fall asleep together. Only the formless serpent, the "Boreal night,'' will rem.'^J-n to lig^bt the windows from the outside, the \rlnd. of time in command. ^ Cr. Baird, pp. 29ll--98, vjhore he follows up Prye's observation of the '•'Moi\genrot" of a "new recognition" in "Auroras." Baird also discusses the aurora b oroalis as "phenomenal reality" and as symbol. ( Cf , alio L, Y'S'2 . ) My own study stresses this interdependence of the phenomenal and the mythic as a constant for Stevens.

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2\ 8 Beyond the human aarth "sits" the "inh'jman author" (377) » But lanlike in his episode in "Credences," here the alien father has the center of the stage, an inhuman reality; the roseate characters are human but unreal, "actors ... in company, in their masks" — v;ho come as in 2 Hamlet to the royal presence. Stevens* poignant appeal to the inhuman father is Job-like; Master Master seated by the fire And yet in space and motionless and yet Of motion the ever-brightening origin. Profound, and yet the king and yet the crov^Ti, Look at this present throne. VJliat company. In masks, can choir it with the naked wind? (iv) Compared to the elemental forces, which are children of their inhuman father, the human drama is but a brief charade, the subject of the section following. The festival of man is made all the more ridiculous when set against the background of an aristocratic order, the "mother [who] invites hijraanity to her house . . . The father [who] fetches tellers of tales. ..." Itie joy of freedom for the roseate characters of "Credences" is replaced by the despair that "there are no lines to speak. . . . There is no play." But as usual for Stevens the fact that there is no pre-set play leads from despair to affinmation. First, the The vague echo of R'"£Jil-^, reinforced by section v and by the "Danes in Deiimark"*^" oi" section ix, is appropriate to the problem of identity in a cosmic play with an inhuman author. Hamlet's ovm interior dialogi^e and his relaoion to the players is a crucial turning point in V/estem consciousness involving the idea of man as a self -created identity. Cf, Erich Heller, The Artist's Journ ey into the Interior (Hew York: Random, T"965).. PP. 125-327 l3^-i4-ii.

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2\9 disilluvslonment that there is no ultimate pattern: It is a theatre floating through the clouds. Itself a cloud, althougli of misted reck And mountains running like water, on wave. Through waves of light. It is of cloud transformed To cloud transforracd again, idly, the way A season changes color to no end. , . . The continual changes of earth and imagination lead noiiihsre, or at any rate the "denouement has to be postponed, , , . " But the individual man who aclaiovjl edges the absurd ''theatre" and makes the ''nar.ied thing nameless" experiences the gigantic force of a universe of change^ the serpent and the auroras, both physical and imaginai*y: He opens the door of his house On flames. The ccholar of one candle sees An Artie effulgence flaring on the frame Of c-vcrything he is. And he feels afraid. The fear that \\o feels is av/e and terror, not the vertigo of disorder in ''Domination of Black" but a sense of the vast powor, \mnar,K-:di^ of a wci^ld beyond him and within him. But to postulate as source of such expex^ience aii "imagination that sits onthron^.-d" means to violate the signatures of a visible universe that no longer proclaira a scMX'ce with human The idea of a creative source "mii.'ifc change from destiny to slight capidce." The old sense of tragedy is to be jettijoned along with tiu^ "stele" marking its crjcntation toward a transcendent source. That which ''mus b unmake it" is a "flippant commioni cation taider the moon."--& sense of the casual to reflect the casual spectacle in which man lives*

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220 The "pure principle" of "innocence" is another version ox Stevens' pure romantic, embodied in his mythio moment. It "is not a thing of time, nor of place," and yet "It exists, it is visible, it is, it is," It is a faith that the innocent imagination of man can find a spiritual home in the innocent earth. Such a principle of faith "exists / Almost as predicate." It is vjhat encourages men t'O open their doors on flames as v;ell as to "lie dovm like children in this holiness, . , ." Vftien the imagination is no longer conceived as a "spell of light, / A saying out of a cloud, " and when earth is conceived as "no false sign / Or symbol of malice ..." then it is the "innocent mother" earth '.-.'ho sings her children to sleep, crcatiiig the "tiiue and place in v;hich v/e breathe, ..." Even if the principle of innocence exists "in the idea of it, alone" (viii), it remains the predicate for a fresh spiritual time and place, declared by the mother in the minds of her children. Such a faith resembles thcsq times in the past when men "were as Danes in Denmar'k , , . hale-hearted landsmen, " alive in the "idiom of an innocent earth, / Not of the enigma of the guilty dream, "-^ In a mythic earth-bound scone, a rendezvous with the imagination is a rendezvous with earth. Winter earth does not portend spiritual Miller emphasizes the absence of individuality, self-consciousness, in the Danes, resulting in projections of the supenaatural (pp. 217~'J8), My reading stresses their prindtive oneness with earth, a state of innocence with no need for distant gods.

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221 disaster. The loss of God does not make the earth bare but shifts man into a primitive sense or awareness, through vmich the stars become presences again, '-putting on their glittering belts" (cf. l|21-23). Espousing this s^uiie principle of earth's innocence, the poem's final section is primarily a liturgy emphasizing the earth not as a vale of tears but as a "happy world" (an innocent one). While the "congregation" is read this doctrine^ the central "geiii^s" continues to meditate by his "lights." Liglits, i-a^ich in the opening section v;ere turned on the "bodiless" serpent^, are now described as a "blaze of summer straw, in winter's nick . . ."—fire both creative and destructive, providing a sense of field and hearth, the credences of 3u:7imer even in winter's cold. II "The Owl in the Sarcophagus" {k3>^-3^) is a quiet evocation of the innocence of deaths One of Stevens' great visionary poems, it reaches thfoug3.i the experiences of sleop aJ'id peace toward the presence of the universal mother. A sense of rest replaces othervrorldly traditions of fear. The enva roniaont of the poem partakes of both the mythic depth of "Chocorua" and the abstract serenity of the "red soldier" section of "Esthetique. " It provides a dream-like experier^ce of that which is beyond experience.

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22?. Two forms move among the dead, higlri slesp V/ho by hi 3 highness quiets them, high peace Upon v/hose shouldei's even the heavens rest. Two brothers. And a third form, she that says Good-by in the darkness, speaking quietly there, To those that cannot 3e.y good-by themselves, Stevens makes it clear that these forms are not dead mythology: "abortive figures, rocks, / Impenetrable symbols, motionless. They move / About the night," These three personifications are manmade figures, but they represent that v/hich lives "id.thout our light." They are protean projections fi-om life-bound experience into the innocent peace beyond life: "sleep the brother is the father, too, / And peace is cousin by a hundred names. , , ." The v;omcn figure is Identified first as the "syllable between life / And death" — the voice at the juncture of life and death, subsuming the two. She "is the mother of us all, / The earthly mother and the mother of / The dead," Concerning the primitive's sense of this mother, Eliade observes: "V/hat we call life and death are merely tu^o different moments in the career of the Earth-Mother as a x-jholc : life is itierely being detached from the earth's womb, death is a returning 'horae',"^'' Stevens concludes: "Only the thought of those dark three / Is dark" (i). Cosmic innocence means tltat life and death are tvjo versions of the sane finality, the earth mother. Death is dark only from the side of life, not from the dimension of m.ythic linity in the mother figure. '• Patterns, p. 2^3.

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223 The "day" (past, future,, when a man can walk "living among the forras of thought . ,. » conceivins his passage as into a tirr.e / That of itself stood still," is another rendition of Staventi' raythio raoment. Significant is ths fact that this space of "forms" is, "if of substance, a likeness of the earth, . , ." Like fonner projections of paradise (cf. "Sunday Mornings'" vi), the death-after-life for'ms of Stevens' myzh also grov/ frora the earth, although they are "leas time than place, less place tLian thought of place" (ii),-' Sections iii-v evoke the presences of this space. Sleep is an "ever-changing, calraest unity," a "giant body" cf "v;hitenes3 folded into loss, / Like Kany robings, .. . ," Stevens' solid mountain (such as Ghocorua. or the "final mountain" of "Credences") becomes as sleep a "moving mountain , , , central / ^vhere luininous agitations come to rest, , , ," In contrast to the "old catastrophe" of "Sunday Mo.rnin£, " a "calm [that] darkens among ^vaterlights" (i)j, sleep is like the "weaving and the crinkling and the vex, / As on water of an afternoon in the v/ind / After the wind has passed," It is an entrance into nothing but itself, a change of foiYa but not of spiritual condition, "Sleep realized / Was the v;hi tones s thac is the ultimate 5 Once again, Stevens' image resembles Yeats' iiaagf frora "Byzantiuri" ( Collected P oems, pp. 2l\.'_i"b^^.) , "Shade more lihan a nan, more image than a sFade, , , ," Cf, also Stevens' "fling v;ithout a sleeve" (v) -vjlth Yeats' "flam.e that cannot singe a sleeve, , . ,"

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22!+ intellect" — simply the other side of consciousness. No longex" a cause of fear, the presence of sleep, like that of peace and the mother, is a source of the strength that comes from living out life's oun conditions: "A diajnond jubilance beyond the fire, / That gives its pov^er to the vjild-ringed eye" — cf the sleeper, the man v;ho lives in thought's fcnrjs. Experienced in the environment of mythic presence, the sleep of life assumes its place in Stevens' pantheon. Then he breathed deeply the deep atmosphere Of sleeo, the accomplished, the fulfilling air. (iii) Peace is the "bz'other of sleep . . . [but an] inhuman brother . . . vested in a foreign absolute. ..." Compared to the mother and brother, peace is an. artificial "personage," created by the imagination, And in this poen dedicated to Che existential facts of sleep and death, peace appears "estranged, estranged." Still, in Stevens' myth of death ho plays the essential role of "peace after death," He, too, is adorned v/ith the "green" of earth and the "blood" of man, but as the whiteness of sleep is the reverse side of intellect so the "brilliance" of peace is the world's side of imagination. He is the manmade figuration of death-after-life designed to "keep us in our death" by symboli?:ing the peace of death. He has the positive value of guarding against ominous notions of death such as the "sii^aincsr of Cyclops / Underground" (iv) — a description v/hich recalls both the pale inoff ensiveness of Homer's Hades and the savagery of Polyphemous,

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225 "Eie doBU-nant presence of ths poeiTi la the woman figure--who speaks, v/hen the others do not. VJhereas sleep provides the strength of a "deep atnosphere" and peace a guard against the horrors of the end^ the mother provides an "influence felt ixistead of seen.'' A principle of change, like the serpent, the mother, however, "held men closelj' vjith discovery . , , in the way / Invisible change discovers vjhat is changed. ..." She provides for man an e?:temalization of the invisible vxithinp She is being; she stands "tall in self not symbol," In her the mythic rose is more than souvenir; she is "rosed out of prestiges / Of rose* , . ," She is the primal iinity of self beyond separate selvesc But, above all, she "says good-by. " She moves "Vifith a sad splendor, beyond artifice , . „ on the edges of oblivion." She is, finally, "in the silence that follows her last word" the "reddened" (v) image of mother death. Stevens concludes the poem by reminding us that these forms are "beings of the mind.." But they v/ere "Compounded and compoutided, life by life , . , The pure perfections of parental space. ..." This "mythology of modem death" is a result of a "desire that is the will, / Eygti of death," just as all Stevens' mythic figurations have grox^m out of his desire for pi'esence, for life. It is a child that sings itsoD.f to sleep, Ttie mind, among tlie creatures, that it raalces. The people, those by which it lives ajid dies, (vi)

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226 Living vrj-thout a sponsor, man becomes the child-creator of hif. o'-m parents, those beings of the mind that deter.nine his experience of life and death. Ill The forras of the mind compose's poem, his myth. The idea of man and the idea of earth both derive from the poem, and both depend, for Stevens, on the idea of the centre„ In "A Primitive Like an Orb" (i!l{.0-i|3) the central poem is celebrated as the mate of earth and merges with Stevens' mythic embodiment of man. The abstract orb of the supreme fiction comes together with the primitive presence xjhich first emerged in "Ohocorua, " "A Primitive Like an Orb" begins with recognition of the difficulty of apperceiving the central poem, even though it is the "essential gold." The poem at the centre is of the mind, the result of "spiritual fiddlings" and "slight genii in ... . pale air" (i). It is not something to be provon except through experience of its embodiments in "lesoer' poems." The central poem is a "huge, high hariuony «, .. c. [that] Captives the being, widens — and v;as there" (ii)» H\xt "such captivity" is like a pastoral rite, with "milk , ^ , v;heaten bread and oaten cake , . . Green gueLjl'-y and teble in the wood;-:; and songs / At heart, . , ," Once again Stevens appeals to a sense of folic communion as illustration of the "space grown wide" thi'ough the essential

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227 poem. Which ±s really a spiritual metaphor, "the obscurest as, the difitaiit was ..." (ill). The '^clairvoyant men" who experience, create, and celebrate the central poem are the "lover, the believer ai.d the poefV.all, aspects really of the central self « "Their words are chosen out of their desire, / The joy of language, when it is themselves" (iv). Expressing their desirs for love, preaence, they express themselves and also open communication with earth. The "used-to earth rmd sicy . . . the usedto tree and usedto cloud, / Lose the old uses, ..." The essential poem/ both created by man and lived in by mcui, allows fresh incarnation, the union of imagination and earth: These m.en, and earth and sky, inform Each other by sharp informations, sharp. Free Imowledges, secreted until then,^ Breaches of that which held them fas-o. It xs As if the central poem became the worlds /.nd the world the central ^oem, each one the mate 01 the other. . « . (v-vi) section vi helps explain why in Stevens' later poetry the irtorlor woman self often merges with the earth mother figmo. Hi^ interior "mate of susxtaer" is "her hvmv.ev^s] mxrvcr and hor look, / Her only place and person. . . ." In th-^ mytoio v,K;mont, they are "both one," sacramental mates uuitili^g ^nner and outer. ^' Whereas in his t)ro3e Stevens' idea of a "breach of re^litv" fop, 1^0-91) ia Illustrated on a philosophical levei 'this iaL "breach^' in the poetry is grounds for, the sacred, for a momentary u.aity of mind and earth beyond d^iality .

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223 Now that the central posm has been seen to be both the result of desire and a response to desire, Stevens continues in the second half of his poem to at, tempt;, first, to describe and, thento embody the idea of the essential poem. His early rage for order nov; becomes a desire for unity, and the centir-al poem "a poem of / The whole, the essential compact of the pai'ts" (vii). As usual, Stevens will not follow the thread of causes for the poom to any specific sense of an ultimate; the central poem may be the product of a "vis, a principle , , , the meditation of a principle ... an inherent order , , . a nature ... a repose. ..." But the feeling of the poem can be provided a metaphor: the "muscles of a magnet aptly felt. , , „" The central poem is a "giant on the horizon, glistening, / And in brlglit excellence adorned, crested / ^/i th every prodigsJ., familiar fire . . . Vested in the curious folds of majesty" (viii-ix). In contrast to his usual satire of pr&tensions to royalty, here he endows his gian.t with the same ''crest" that he had left behind in "Kow to Live. \Iha.t to Do." The majesrdgiant is, however, to be associated also with "unfamiliar escapades: wjiirroos / And scintillanb sizzlings such 9.r children like "--a feeling of festival and excitement. The heavenly and the casual are brought togethsr in the giaixt's "follo'wing, / A source of trumpeting seraphs in the eye, / A source of pleasant o^itbarsts on the eai'."

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2<9 To roduoe the giant to "scale," to realistic proI>orticns, robs him of the "po\ver of his form" (x)* Ha is rn "abstraction given head, / A giant on the hox'izon, given ar.-ns, / A massive body and long legs, stretched out. . » ." He is more than abstract idea; he is primitive presence, the abstract orb of the poem, alive in the mythic figure of man. He is the CreaT:or in a this-worldly spiritual: "a close, parental magnitude, / At the centre on the horizon, concentrura,t grave / And prodigious person, patron of origins" (xi). The giant is a necessary fiction arising from the immediate experience of life. He exists in almost comic largeness, s sort of folk hero, because men are what they are in the innocent comedy: "The lover wr-ites, the believer hears, / The poet mvuubles and the painter sees. . , ." Instead of a cosmic creator there is this scene, but the faculty which created the Creator still creates out of the dimensions of this scene. Each of these figures, then, is a "tenacious particle, / Of the skeleton of the ether. ..." The giant is a "giant of nothingness," a for>m of the mind giving mythic life to the idea of the central poem. He is the 'total / Of letters, prophecies, perceptions, clods / Of color , . , each one / And the giant ever changing, living in change" (xii).

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230 IV "An Ordinary Evening in New Haven" (i|.65"Q9) resembles the "Notes" in its discursive sty] o, but goes beyond tlio earlier poem as declaration of a fresh spiritual. The abstract contours of Stevens' thought remain basically the same and his central themes are reiterated, but "An Ordinary Evening" is more sharply directed toward the physical pr0sent--New Haven instead of the supreme fiction — and more fully endowed than even the "Notes" with a spiritual dimension, ' Although the poem is frequently concerned vdth language and poetry as modes of perception (that is, as myth), Stevens' ovm mythic figurations aro less abimdajnt here than in much of his late poetry. "An Ordinary Evening" is more declarative than meditative, more preceptorial than mythic. It is a major exposition of the poet's belief in poetry^ The "Eye's plain version" is never plain: it is "part of t,hG never-ending meditation, / Part of the question that if', a gi-ont himself. . , ," The act of perception is both ijource and object of Stevens' meditation, and the centerc:C this poem. An ordinary evening is not ordinary vrhen msji r6Rli.?,es tbat it has no "double" except in the ' Stevens described his efforts in "An Ordinary Evening" as trying "to get as close to the ordinary, the cornmonplace and the ugly as it is possible for a poet to get. It is not a question of grim reality but of plain reality. The object is of course bo purge oneself of anything false" (L, 636).

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231 Blind. This mind represantation, then, becomes allimportant, uB the New Haven— New Heavsn pun. suggests. Even the level of t/^ls "recent imagining of reality" depends on metaphor: it ia "a new rosemblcjioe of the sun . . « A larger poem for a larger audience ... A mythological form, a festive sphere; / A great bosom, beard and being, alive with age" (i). The mythic form, the giant of nothingness, is cause ajid product of a new imagining of the world of objects. s\ioh as the houses which now comprise ITew Haven— IJew Heaven r Suppose these houses are composed of ourselves,^ So^ that they become an impalpable toi-na, full of Imoalpable bells, transparencies of sounds * « Sounding in transparent dwellings of the self. such traixsparence depends upon a particular "dense in which we are poised, / Without regard to time or where we £,2-0. . , »" The sphere of the im.agination provides the dimension of the eternal to the time-space vrorld. This "sense" is the "object / Of perpetual meditation, point / Of the enduring, visionary love. . o . '' For Stevens, tr^msparenca occurs when the. object enters this dimension of the mind w-lohoiit changing shape, just brilliancy. VJhen such peaks of visiovar-y love are reached, "we cannot tell apart / The idea and the bearer-being of the idea" (ii). For instance, such a moment occurs in Stevens' own poetry when his vision of his earth mother merges with his interior woman figure. "The point of vision find desire are the s ardo

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232 Tho idea of perception depends, then, on that figure with nhe capacity for creative love, the "hero of midnight , c ancientest saint ablaze with ancient est truth, ..." He alone can acknowledge the "misery that infuriates our love, " the "black of night" surrounding us, the ''hill of stones' wo live on--and still "make beau raont thereof." Prom this perspective, the v/orld depends not on holiness coning froia without but on the ;v-ill to holiness within, the "desire for love . . . set deep in the eye, / Behind all actual seeing, in the actual scene, / In the street, in a room, on a carpet or a v/all" (iii). Experience of the sacred within the phenomenal world depends upon the creative desire of man. not on the divine love of God. Such desire iv. a primitive force like a "lion roaring in the desert and a boy whistling in the dark" (L, kOk); ib does not accept the plain version of reality but "c.'ies / With a savage voice ... In a savage and subtle and simple he.Kaony" (iv). Man cannot avoid the desire with plainness; there is only the "inescapable romance, inescapable choice / or dreaitis." One cannot escape the mind, and yet one should not j)03it a spiritual origin forman eithoi-'c Consciousness arose casually "in tne leisure of blue day" (v), "Reality is the beginning not the end, ..." The force of Stevens' emphasis always brings the mind to earth. Unlike Eliot, who^'e "beginning" and "end" both point boyond " Cf. Eliot's idea of love, which retains a transhuman dimension ("Burnt Norton" v and "Little Gidding" iv).

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^33 themselves, Stevens' alphabet is based on "Naked Alpria," the rock that receives the imagination's light, "Alpha continues to begin. / ttnega {the imagination] is refreshed at every end" (vi). Learning with such an alphabet in the "chapels" and the "schools," men no longer separate themselves spiritually from things. They enter the comedy no longer as fallen spirits but with greater "depth" and "height" than they had laiovm they had. In this new space, the "incredible becomes . . . credible day again" (vii). Man's desire for love becomes founded on the real. "V7e descend to the street and inhale a health of air / To our sepulchre.! hollows." The assuaging of desire comes through the learning of a "iraother tongue / V/ith which to speolc to her" (viii), Stevens' poetry as a whole is fundamentally just such a tongue learned from the mother earth. The "poem of pure reality" is another version of Stevens' pure romantic, but it illustrates the exteiiit to v;hich his emphasis keeps returning to iijmediate apprehension of earth along with a certain wariness of tendencies in the imagination. Apart from New Haven the imagination is meaningless (as is IJev: Havon, also); the full viev; of reality often s carts for Stevens with the simple, unreflectivo, and then groi'.'s to be enveloped by the spirit of the mind, Ihe "poem of pure reality" is A view of New Haven, say, through the certain eye, The eye made clear of uncertainty, with the sight Of simple seeing^ v;itbout reflection. Vo seek Nothing beyond reality. Within it.

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2311 Everything, the spirit's alcheuicana Ixicluded., the spiri t that goes roundabout iind thi'ough included, not mei'ely the visible,. 'Sihe solid, but the rf-ovable, the cioment. The coming on of I'easts and the habits of saints. The pattern, of the heavens and high, night air. (ix) Nev; Haven begins in the eye as New Haven but ends in the mind as Kev; Heaven. Section x expresses this saitie wariness toward the imagination when it is oriented away from earth, "It is fatal in the irioon and empty there." The earth encourages change; the moon does no L: "it is haunted by the man / Of bronze v;hcse mind was made up and vjho, therefore, died." But earth's nature i.s a "double-thing. / We do not l-oio'.r v;hat is real and what is not." The dimension of raystery is revitalized, making a fresh form of faith possible. Man's spirit on earth "resides / In a per-manence composed of impermanence, / In a faithfulness as agaiixst lunar li^^t, / So that morning and evening are like promises kept, ..." The desire for love leads to the mystery of ea.rth, to the "faithfulness of reality." l^he distinction between the profane and the sacred, between the physical and the metaphysical, is collapsed into the mind o.f the man who Ir. ves on a physical earth in the center of consciousness. But the spiritual imagination "must stand potent in the suii. " At age twenty-nine Stevens had noted the loss of vitality in the raodemi church in contrast to "tabernacles hallowed by worship that sprang from the noble depths of men fandliar v;ith Gothsemane, familiar with Jerusalem.--! do not wonder

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235 that the churoh is 30 largely a relic. Its vitality depended on its association with Palestine" (L. 11.0). «ov he says simply. "Juda >.ecomes Se« Haven or else ,nust." aat «hlch replace, the fomer "profomdest fox^s" (destroyed "with wafts of wsJcing'' ) i^^ A verity of the ^^^^^J"^ twelve months. The P°P??^^^^^S t^J^^'^^J^tral of the aarth. (xi ) The brilliancy at the cem^xo-x The poem is "Part of the res" because it is of the immediate moment in time, "when the marble statues / Are lil..e newspapers blov^ by the wind." Such . moment is within the "casual litter" of leaves, '^e whirling which caused the fear in "Domination of Black" is here accepted as the four^dation of the «,rds that "are the iile of the world" (xii).'' The ophebe "seeks out / The perquisites of sanctity. . . ."He confronts "the big X of the returnl.nB primltive"-the mystery of a world that has yet to be named. Tt is a fresh spiritual that he defines, i cold^e'« in a long, ,l^°°-o°"^*^* "If'? ^ ^ A thing on the side of a house, not deep in a cloud. * . • (xiii ) The tall eucalyptus tree is a caricature of m^ reaching dn the clouds for that vihich keeps falling to earth. A.ain the descending lines of spiritual force a^e evident, but, uraike "Le Monocle," vii, there is no conflict between the somds of "tinkling bells" and "shrilling tankards." Here there is one souixd, the "ramshackle so^ond'of the rain. Professor Eucalyptus ".seeks / God in the 9 cf. Vendler, pp. 27378y l>oseett, pp. 166-68.

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object, itself^ without wuch choice," Stevens has long since ceased to make earth paradisai in the way of "Sunda;y Morning." V.liat tlje Professor bolieveu is theoretically possible does not alter the "tink-tonk" of the rsin, Bu:; given the fact of the rain, the other half of the experience depends upon man's words, the "description that makes it divinity. ..." Stevens is in no way encouraging a false romantic; the rain is vjhat man starts vrith. It "is not a BUbstitute, I^ is of the essence not yet well perceived." Man's "paradisai parlance" is not Intended to alter the rain, only man's experience of it. The "instinct for heaven" gives way to the "instluct for earth, " for the "gay toumamonde of a single world / In 1 which . , .. as and is are one." The "hand of desire" seeks out the actual, i^hich is described again in transformation from elementary condition to spiritual state: The rein kept falling loudly in the trees And on the ground. The hibeiiTial dark that hroig In prima vera, the shadov/ of bare rock. Becomes tho rock of auturanr glittering, Fondei-abls source of each imponderable. The weight we lift with the finger of a dreaia. . , c (XV) But the immediate world is yet to be named spiritually: "Among time's images, there is not one / Of this present. , . . '• T}ie ancient images, such as those from the "Italian blue, " do not suffice todescribe the present day 1 Per Stevens' comraenbs on words of his own invention, particularly "tournainonde, " see L, 699 and n.

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? V 37 11 and night — the "Oklahoman. " Yet even in the present "perfection , . . something of death's poverty is heard." The full validation of time is also the ackno\/lGdge).aent of the emptiness of death, "tragedy's most moving face," The sense of the deadness of the past is a sense of the transiency of the present as well. But awareness of "total leaflessness" (xvi ) is -ohe price man pays for living in a real v;orld, and Stevens' poetry as a whole afJ'irms that the price is v;orth it. As ho says in the follo^lfing section, "The strength at the centre is serious." Leaflessness seen not as death's emptiness but as cosmic mystery is "The dominant blank, the unapproachable. / This is the mirror of the hlgli serious, , . ," Stevens halts at this foray into the abstract and turns back to the "coimaonplace, " which contains within ity though, both the comic and the tragic. Centering again on the idea of perception, ho observes that "it is the window that makes i.z difficult / To say good-by to fche past and to live and to be / In the present state of things, , r ." Windov;s, like arches and pillars, ahape the perception; past windows have kept from the inuuediate physical. But the "life and death of this [present] carpenter depend / On a fuchsia in a can. , , ." Heir only to the weather of earth, this carpenter bases his vdndoiv' on the truth of the m:-.ment 1 1 By "masculine" Stevens mshed to indicate x-^ays of sight centered in father gods (cf. "masculine myths," 5^18),

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H?8 v/hich allov:s him to perceive the present. His is a slapdash arrangement, an "eccentric" city v;ithout traditional order and within time among the talking "clocks" (xviii). The center of this nev; sight — its "radial aspect" — occurs in the mind, although "At another tine . . « [it] came / Prora a different source,'' Wow the "radial aspect of this place" comes from A figure like Ecclesiast, Rugged and luminous, [who] chants in the dark A text that is an ansv;er, although obscure, (xix) The old man on the mountain in "Credences" has returned wearing the mantle and chanting the text of a spiritual prophet. Although the "imaginative transcripta" of the past are dead, and their town "a residutim" even hhen^ the myth was once "blue." It took shape in "feeling" and became "persons." To evade this myth of transcendence (the "clouds") is to be left a "naked being with a naked will / And everything to malce" (xx). Or per'haps such freedom is an illusion, man being subject to the "vriLlls of other men . . , [and] the will of necessity, c . ." Ko matter why, spiritual vision chooses ^n "alternate romanza, " "opposite of Cythere "---island beyond the senses. -^ Based on the things The idea of a new city of man to replace the city of God is pervasive in this poem about New Haven-Hew Heaven, See also sections xx and xxiv. Cf, Baird, pp. 262-63. ^ R)r viavrs concerning the image of Cythere, see Doggott, pp. l31i--86; Baird, pp. I1-O-J1I , For my purpose it is enough to see that the romanaa associated v/ith Cythsre is clearly founded on the "distant," that which is outside the rnjnd^ beyond life.

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239 iii -'Time's poverty" and with only "isolation [from transcendent spirit] / At the center," this new myth of the senses depends upon its oxvn "celestial mode . , . If only in thebranches sweeping in the rain. , . . '' Viewed wi chin the weather of tiniOj, the "two romanzas^ the distant and the near" (x:<:i), are, alike, celestial creations of the mind. The poet's side of the search for reality-God is linked both to the senses and to the idea of love. The poet makes "breathless things broodingly abreath / With the inhalations of original cold / And of original earliness," A version of the poet's need to refresh the first idea, as in "Notes, " this sense of earliness is "Not the predicate of bright origin." It is a priraitive-like response to ixmaediate earth, and it develops out of the search for l.nve ^.p well as the search for reality. But love is not without; it is a human capacity to create sacred reality. The "evening star" is "v^holly an inner light , . . [shining] From the sleepy bo son of the real" (xxii). Section xxiii alters Stevens' usual use of day and niglit imagery,'^ Here the "siiii is half the world, half everything, / Th;^ bodiless half." Imagery of day, no longer needed for foiToing the myths of, can now be adopted to deepen the mystery of the commonplace v/crld by bringing the spiritual imagination to Ngi>7 Haven. "At evening, after dark, is the other half. , . „" Noxv", the night, no longer ' Cf. Doggett, pp, '176.-77.

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21-0 siiaply a mythic time for the imagination, is representative of the irnmediate pvill of earth's darkness. Although "diserrihociiments / Still keep oecuring ..." the feeling of nightis like a "long, inevitable sound, / h kind of cozening and coaxing sound, / And the goodness of lying in a maternal sound, / Unf retted by day's separate, several sGlvoy, / Being part of everything come together as one." The body is released from the ralnd into a unity v/ith earth, a fot'ce towai-d darkness often present in Stevens' very late poetry. But alongside the sense of individual death recurs oonuztmt affirmation of a new day of the imagination. The trvitbs of drxy-— 'which throug^^out his poetry have been a source of difficulty for the imagination — become responsible for momenos of joy in Stevens' late poetr-y. The night-originally the time of the pure romantic-becomes the time of unity in death. Both the joy of new day and the repugnance from death's night grow naturally out of Stevens' myths of svunjier, vjhich add up to a monumental affirmation of life. It vjas In the genius of slimmer that they blew up The statue of Jove among the boomy clouds. It took all day to quieten the sky And then to refill its emptiness again. . . . Althoiigh the day has not arrived,, there is a "readiness for first bells „ . .« a willingiiess nob yet composed. ..." What is awaited is a fresh form of experience, "a

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2i|1 happening / In space and the self, that totiched thew both at once / And alike" (xxiv)» The "genius of summer" has paved the way for a uiaion of space an,d self. 'Hie hidalgo, the Don Quixote figure, is the artist figure Oi iraagination, of "life, " who watches the poet for "\infaithful thought." It is the one constant in a life of change because it is "abstract"; the hidalgo is a principlo or faith, a demand, a self-created mythic presonce-'-a "hatching that stared and demanded an sjiswering look" (xxv). Honesty is the question also of section xxvi, vrhether to lose oneself in the romantic distances of an afternoon by Long Island Soiond or attend to the details of the moment in the city. In the first inst&XiCe, even the "blotches" on the walk were "Blooming and boeming^ " ai-id "The sea shivered in transcendent change, . , . '•' ^ese large elemental forces are "lineaments" of an "earth, / Seen as inamorata. ..." The basic figurations of Stevens' mybh have grovm largely from such a perspective. The problem is to turn these truths of suimaer back on the imraediatei coinraonplace, where the "inamorata, without distant . . .[is] lost, and naked or in rags, / Siirunk in the poverty of being close. ..." Yet despite the gritting of particularities, the immediate vrorld provides a proximity of reality v/hich the distant carmot: it "whispers humane repose." In contrast to the; particiilar, the follov/ing section's story of the "Ruler of Reality" mad the "Queen of Pact" is a light.

PAGE 254 abstract, but it, toe, makss the same point: the Rulor finds hi?, "ease" only with thv3 Queen of Fact. Now that a full emphasis on the particular has been made, Stevens is in a position in section xxviii to restate powerfully the basic premise of his poetry. Despite the qualifying opening, for Stevens "reality exists / In the mind. ..." This is not to say how reality gets in the raind but only that the real exists for man in his experience of it, Ihe immediate details-"tin plate . , ^ loaf of bread . . . long-bladed knife"--and the mind's "Miserico.vdia" are "tv;o in one." The relationship between the mind and its world is the source of the "endlessly elaborating poem" of man. The "theory / Of poetry is the life of poetry . . . [and] the theoi-'y of life. „ . «" The mind is the living-space of the r e al ; its metaphors provide the spiritual dimension of experience. Man lives in the intricate evasions of as. In things seen and tinsaen, created from nothingness. The heavens, the hells, the worlds, the longed-for lands. Such lands are imaged in the "land of the lemon trees," a tropic land of the imagination., whose inhabitants eloquently "rolled their r's. . . ." Stevens' mythic fable then intj'oduces to tb.i.s yellow land the 'H\randerin.g mariners" from the "land of e3jti trees," whose words are "mere brown clods." Kie realists of the North, hovjevor, finds themselves at home in the South, Havings said farewell to Florida long before in Ideas of Order, Stevens now

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2l.\3 reapproaches the exotic v;l th an imagination nurtured by the restrictive weather and solid earth of the North, The "dark-colored words" of Stevens' mariners provide new cubstajAce to romantic space, "an alteration / Of words that was a change cf nature" (xxix). The "longed-for lands" are accessible through a myth fojrroed by the facts of earth. Such facts are the basis of section xxx, vjhich takes us back to the North at a time when the "robins are la-bas. ..." This is the envirorjiaent of "barrenness" whicVi strips the romances, eventually making the pure romantic momentarily possible. "The pines that \iere fans and fragrances emerge, / Staked solidly in a gusty grappling v;ith rocks," The v^eather of earth emerges again, washing away "something imaginedo" The povjer of the mind's credences over the earth is checked^ ''The wind has blown the silence of suraraer avfay," That x-Jhich remains are the declarations once again of the presences of earth, A clearness has returned. It stands restored. It is not an empty clearness, a bottoraless sight. It is a visibility of thought. In which hundreds of eyes, in one mind, see at once. The mind becomes the medium through which earth sees herself. Even this poem devoted to the city of man has wound its way back to the presences of earth. The irfijnr3diate elements of experience form the basis of the myth. The "hundreds of eyes" become in the final section the "less legibJ.e meanings of sounds, the little rods / ITot often reali2.ed. ..." Eacla of the "hundreds of

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2hh eyes" is itoolf a rod pr3sence — like the red soldier — of the larger myth: "These are the edgings ejid inchings of final foi=iQ. , , . '• Reality as experienced by lanxi grows out of the earth into the mind and back to the earth again. It raay bo a shade that traverses A dust, a force that traverses a shade. If "An Ordinary Evening" sees stovens turning the force of his summer myth toward the commonplace city of man, "Things of August" (JLj.89-96) represents a tuiming toward the particulars of personal experience. Stevens* credences remain his foundation, even for his negations, but his desire to touch the "things" of his immediate world becomes greater than ever. These locusts by day, these crickets by nigiit Are the instruments on vjhich to play Of an old and disused ambit of the soul Or of a new aspect, bright in discovery-A disused ambit of the spirit's v/ay. . . . l-ftiile avowing the pov;er of the immediate noises of nature, he turns repeatedly tov/ard a sense of primitive contact. Still describing the new ambit of the spirit, he compares it to the "spii'it's sex ... as the voice of one / Meets nakedly another's naked voice" (i). He encourages man to "spread sail" and to "Break through" the egg-barriers that separate him from imraediate contact: Breathe freedom, oh, my native. In the S'^ace of horizons that neither love nor hate, (ii )

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2L;5 Such a space is like "the Mediterraxaeari / Of the quiet of the middle of tho night, / With ths broken statues standing on the ahore." There, in the middle of the mind and aarth, the poetry of hioraan consciousne3s--v;hethGr directed within ("interior intonations") or without ("a \vorld of objects")-creates "A nature . , . The peace of its last intelligence" (lii). There is sadness in this quietude, but not over the "broken statues, " the loss of past spiritual meaning. Stevens mourns rather the "sad smell of the lilacs ... as of an e:?±iumation retur-ned to earth. , , ." Life and earth are "rich," but the "sentiment of the fatal is a part / Of filial love," Earth's "dagger," hov;ever, is j-referable to the "blessed regal dropped in daggers' devj" of "MontrachetleJardin"--the dagger of a uranscendent parent separating man from earth. In earth's hejid, the dagger might even represent "parental love." But Stevens can still wish, without contradiction, that lilacs had been "warmer, rosier" (iv). Section v is a clear indication of the main tendency of Stevens' last poetry. No longer placing primary emphasis on the need for the mind to create its abstractions out of earth's forms, he stresses more frequently the desire to experienc-i.the nonhujaan things around him, even though such experience is often darkened by a sense of his ovm approaching death. Supported by the m.ythic foundation of his oxm fiction, he can noii' afford to "give the week-end to wisdom.

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2L6 to iVesisheit, the rabbi. ..." It is uithiii thicj "thinker as reader" side of himself that the myth exists: A crovm within hir: of crispest dioiuonds, A reddened ganiont falling to his feet, A hand of ligiit to turn the page, A finger with a ring to guide his eye From line to line, , . . But the overall thrust of the poetry turn?, away from fictive abstractions toward the experience of othevness that the myth makes possible. While the thinker "reads what has been written ..." Stevens' two selves "lie on the grass and listen / To that which has no speech, ..." The aggressive force of man's lights at "Key V/est" becomes the passive experience of otherness by the vroman imagination. But the outer vjorld is no longer "mei'ely a place by which she walked to sing." The forras of Stevens' myth (derived from the earth) uovj allow the things of earth to declare themselves. "The world images for the beholder" (vi). The sense of aggressive self gives way to a sense of self as spirit of place, "the blank mechanic of the mountains, / The blank frere of fields, their matin laborer." It is no wonder, then, that Stevens no\i turns From the tower to the house. From the spun sky and the high and deadly viev/. To the novels on the table. The geraniums on the sill. Stevens' poetry from here on traces his entrance into the mysterious space of a world both mind and thing. Ho no longer requires the darkness of night as mate for his

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2M.7 imagination (cf, 356; OP, 71). It was curious to have to descend Aiid, seated in the nature of his chair. To feel the satisfactions Of that transparent air. (vii) He goes on to describe the source of this change, asking first, "v;hen was it that the particles becarae / The whole laan . , . and that differences lost / Difference and were one?" Kis ansv/er is that It had to be In the presence of a solitude of the self. An e;n:pan3e and the abstraction of an expanse, A zone of time without the ticking of clocks, A color that moved us viith forge tfulness. The source of his fresh sense of unity is of course his own abstract spiritual, alive in the mythic moment of time vjithout time, a red figuration "Tranquillizing « . The torments of confusion" (2?). The following stanza illustrates vividly his awareness of the priraj-tive dimension of his abstract and its close relationship to the presential. He speaks first of the "archaic form / Of a woman with a cloud on her shoulder"--the presence that ujiites his inner and outer selves: "We resembled one another at the sight." He continues The forgetful color of the autur:m day V/as full of these archaic forms, giants Of senae, evoking one thing in many men. Evoking an archaic space, vanishixig In the space, leaving an outline of the size Of the impersonal person, the wanderer. The father, the ancestor, the bearded peer. The total of shadovfs bright as glass.

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?.kQ Stevens' inter'iop space is f.ij.led with giant presences, parents of a child-self already emerging with new sight. In the broader sense, his own supreme fiction takes its place as A new text of the world, A scribble of fret and fear and fate. From a bravura of the mind, A courage of the ejs, , . . A product of the imagination's force combined with the physical senses, the nev; myth "coraos from ourselves": It is a text that we shall be needing. To be the footing of noon. The pillar of midnight. A text of intelligent men At the centre of the unintelligible. As in a hermitage. . . . (ix) Although Stevens ha.s formed for himself a spiritual home, his o\m. experience, however presential, perforce remains autumnal: The mornings grovi silent, the never-tiring wonder. The trees are reappearing in poverty. The leaves are going, the poverty of winter approachingj but warmth yet remains as well as the capacity to touch — both deriving from the presence of love, his woman within, although "She is e>±kausted and a little old" (x). The winter toward vrhich Stevens moves is both his own death and the death of a way of being for man. His mythic figurations have bi-'ought him to a primitive shore v/here experience is steeped in povoer and awe. In "Page from a Tale" (42'i-23), "in the hard brightness of that winter

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2i{.9 day . . . Kans heard, / Bj his drift-fire, on the shore," two sc\md3; that of the vmter and wind, "vdthout meaning and speech," and that of the men still on the ship, singing "so blau . . . so lind / Und so lau . . . . "'' ^ But the ship is "fouiidered in the ice." ''Men would be starting at dav/n to walk ashore. / They would be afraid of the sun: what it might bs, ..." Hans experiences "l!ile\-J stars ... a foot across . . . cou/riers of [the ship's] death. . . . They looked back at Hans' s look with savage faces." But for Hans, "the cold / V/as [also] like a sleep. . . . The sea vias a sea he dreamed. / Yet Hans lay mde avjake . " The raythic contours of Hans '3 mind, thougl:, pei'roit the experience of savage presence. Tlie songs of the men on board protect theui until they raust leave the ship in order to survive. Then;, The sun might rise and it might not and if It rose, ashen and red and yellow, each Opaque, in orange circlet, nearex-^ than it Had ever been before, no longerknown. . . . The power of other>nes3 will assail them. The sun migb-t appear with the power of a primitive symbol: A vmeel spoked red and white In alternate stripes converging at a point Of fi^Jiie on the line, with a second idieel below, Ju-'t rising, accompanying, arraoiged to cross, '£hronf2.h weltering illuminations, humps Of biiiovTs, downv;ard, "Coward the drift-fire shore. '^^ See eaird's excellent discussion of this poem, pp. 112-16, although 1 do not agree it is necessary to emphasize that the poem "is compelled by twentiethcentury science." Txiis is an apocalypse concerning the way man experiences his v;orld, the picture of the end of a way of belief; it has nothing to do with "atoroic decimation."

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Hca3.ity will no longer be that v/hich is known, but that which is experienced in its otherness. The spiritual ST'-acG of such experience for Stevens has been created out of his own momentary marriages of imagination end earth. In such G space, the sun "might coma bearing, out of chaos . . . Wiiirlpools of darkness in whirlwinds of light . . . The miff-maff-muf f of water, the vocables / Of the v;ind, the glassily-sparkling particles / Of the mind. ..." The major poems of the Auroras of Autumn have, first, extended Stevens' summer troiths into the realm of darkness nnd death and, then, envisioned through the orb of mi:.n^ r> poem tho idea of the ordinary city of man a^id the particular things of common experience. The figure behind all these developments remains the poet himself — not the gisjit n:w, but the "Large Red Man Reading" {L{.23-2h,), A mythic abstraction of Stevens himself, the Red Man unites the poet figure with the rabbi figure. His sacred words bring the "ghosts" of transcendence back to earth, "those from the wilderness of stars that had expected moro" (like the earlier Stevens in "Doirdnation of Black"). Tho Red Man reads from the "poem of life "--first a "great bl' tabulae" and thou a "purple tabulae" (absorbing the Red MsuTi's mythic dimension). Compared to the vacancy of transcendent space, even the pain and ugliness of earth's thorns are preferable, part of the intensity of stepping "barefoot, into reality." This creator figure does not so

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251 miich orsate life -as Stevens, in the first flush of his sbnse of the poet's power ("Tnou ar-t not August . . .")-rather, he reads life into exis-cencec The "poem of life" is •'Of the pans above the stove, the pots on the table, the tulips among them." The Red Wan provides through his .voice a "feeling" for earth, that is, the sense of the sacred that the "gliosts" had sought elsewhere. He intones, as in a rite, "poesis, poe^si^s, the literal char/icters, the vatic lines » c . ."

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"ENQMDERIKGS C? SjiINSE" : LAST POEMS Stevens' last poems record that living space toward v/hich all his pootr;y" has been growing, a space in which the abstract and the particular can unite in the central poet's mind. Considering Stevens' age and his resignation to the "nothingness of human after-death" (33^j), these poems are often surprisingly contented — not however through the innoct-nce of a second childliood but through the sense of a completion that allo;-/s a rebirth of sight. There is a feeling of cor; tact with a physical earth in maiiy of the poems which hints ;:.t those moments of immotiiato experience which, it has been tht; claim of this study, have formed the foundation of his myth throughout the poet's life. The final poems, then, are Iocs occupied than usual with construction Ox the r>>yth itself and more intent than usual cri recording the space of "things" within ond without — experienc© of which the myth has made possible. If the credences of siTC^'Uer have faded, it is because Stevens is now at the mysterious threshold of an experiential vrorld opened to him by his c'.ai suprom.e abstractions. '' Cr« Vendler, p. 312: "This extraordinary creature, Stevens' last mythical invention, is the child one becoraes in second ohi].dljood, in that sickness v^here the eyes dixa, whore the body is a chill vieight, and the old v/inning fairy talcs of bearded deities become irrelevajit. " 2^2

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253 The sole iraportaiit addition tc the myth to develop in the last poeras is the figure of the child-'-who stands at the gateway to a fresh mode of spiritual experience, Stevens' first "homunculus" appeared in Hai^aonium in the title of a poem about the evening star (25-2?), v;here the image of the little man is surely meant ironjcallyy pointing to the minuscule false romantics of the poem, Bui; the posra concludes by directing the quest of love tov/ard a "mistress [who] / Is no gaunt fugitive phantom . . . [bur.] a wanton.., / Abundantly beautiful, eager, / Fecund. . . ," The child that is bom in r^tevens' last poetry is the child of the fecund mother earth. The child's father, however, is no sky god. Tlie principle of the spiritual father has been brought to earth, to merge with, "earth / And sea aiid air" (501-0^). The child is bom of the "spirit [that] comes fx'om the body of the v/orld, " not from "masculine myths v;e used to make" ("Looking across the Fields and V/atching the Birds Ply," 517-19). The father god, as we have seen, has merged v.fith the mind of central man; it is the poet as hero i>;ho replaces the sky goa as consort of earth (cf. 'iC7-1C8). The child is of their unio.n: The sibyl of the self. The self as sibyl, whose diamond., 'rtliose chief eat embracing of all v.'eaith Is poverty, x^hose jev/el found At the exactest central of the earth Is need. (OP, 10l|)

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2511. Jung discusses the "great aignificancG of the child motif in mythology.'' Especially, the "archstypo of the 'child god' ±ii extremely widespread and intimately bovmd up with all the other mythological aspects of the child motif." Jung relates the archetype to horaunculi and goes on to observe that the "child motif is extremely variable and assuraes all mfinner of shapes, such as the jewel, the pearl ... and so on, " Stevens' child is the anticipation of a new form of life: . . . V/anderer, this is the pre-hi story of February. 'Ihe life of the poem in. the mind has not yet begun. You were not bom yet when the trees were crystal Nor are you now, in this walcsfulness inside a sleep, (522) Jung says that "occurrence of the child motif , . , signifies as a rule an anticipation of future developments, even though at first sight it may seem like a retrospective configuration," Stevens' child anticipates also a fresh imion of opposite 3. At the antipodes of poetry, dai'k v/inter, Vfnen the trees glitter with that which despoils then, Dayligl-jt evaporates, like a sound one hears in si okne s s , One is a child again. '^ r The Archetypes , pp. 151, 1 5^-60 » " Ibid., p, I6li..

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2.55 Bora our, of the darkness of winter, Stevens' child announces a new day: And alvrays at this antipodes . . . ane thinks that it could be that the first word spoken, ^ The desire for speech and raeanins gallantly lui.filied. The crathering of the imbecile against his notes And the wry antipodes whirled round the x-Jorld away-^ , , , One thinks, i^hen the houses of New Engxana catch the first sun. The first word wuld be of the susceptible being arx-ived. The immaculate disclosure of the secret no more obscureda . x. ^ 4The sprawling of winter might suddenly stand erect, Pronomoing its new light and ours, not autumn's prodigal returned. But an antipodal, far-fetched creature, vforthy ot birth. . . . (OP, 95-96) Jung relates the "child" to the hero motif; the "^ child' disting-oishes itself by deeds which point to the conquest of dark." Finally, the child "si?mbol anticipates a nasceiit state of consciousness,"'^ The state of consciousness that emerges most fully in Stevens' final poems is able to infuse the mind's love into moments of immediate experience. Since the mythic forms of the poet's mind have gvoxm out of marriages earth, his living myth now provides a screen through which the e-leiaents of immediate experience can reach the level of imagination without in themselves being altered. Stevens' ^iIbid., pp. 167, 168.

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256 Ariel spirit — in early manhood associated by him v;ith the i^omantic (cf. L, 50 .« 123) — ii^s become xrnited with his sense of reality. His self and the sim v;ere one And his poems, although makings of his self, Were no less makings of the sun. It was not important that they survive, vrnat mattered was that they should bear Some lineament or character. Some affluence, if only half-perceived. In the poverty of their words, Of the planet of which they were part. (53'?-33) Instead of a sacred moiontain to provide the meeting place of the physical and the spiritual, of earth and heaven, man said God, Stevens has created "The Poem that Took the Place of a Mountain" (512). There it was, word for word. . . . He breathed it? oxygen. Even when the book lay turned in the dust of his table. The space of the poet's own experience, then, encompattGe(=. both the love dimension of the imagination and ths mind's sense of reality. The mind provides a transparence of place. The "Old Philosopher in Rome" (508-10) experiences a kind of total grsjideur at the end, V/ith every visible thing enlarged an.d yet No more than a bed, a chair and moving nuns. o « • The dimension of heaven has become a diiaension of imagination providing a vision of reality. The "Hiver of Rivers" (533) is t.he Parmington River flowing near Hartford as well (it. the abstract river at the convergence of physical and

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PSi spiritual experience. But like the Styx, it too is "fateful"— a finality in fresh spiritual space. Unlike former embodiments of spirit, thia river is Space-filled, reflecting the seasons, the folk-lore Of oach of the senses. . . . •nie major qualification of Stevens' spiritiial remains, however, that the "river . . . flows nowhere, like a sea." 'Siie mind has "no kn.owledge except of nothingness / And it flows over us without meaninr.s" (OP, 113). Although it is tempting to stress his allusion in the ''Final Soliloquy" (52l^) to "an order, a whole, / A knowledge," the ovenfheliriing emphasis in Stevens' last poetry is on the fresh space itself, not where it comes from (outside the mind of man) or where it F^oes. For him, his mother, not his fatner, is his firmest reality, and his last picture of her as tho destructive presence, "Madame La Fleurie" (!^07)> ±s a powerf'.;i. evocation of earthly mortality. His grief is ^hat his mother should feed on him, himself and what he saw. In that distant chamber, a bearded queen, vricked in her dead light. But even during moments of painful awareness of his age, images of ii,Mediate physical surroundings break through into his poetry with a frequency ujiusual for Stevens. In "The Plain Sense of Ihings" (502-03), his feeling of "sadness without cause" leads to the observation that '^he greerihouse never so badly needed paint. The ehironey is fifty years old and slants to one side.

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2?(3 'vAiile hs C8X'. mirse that the "great structure has a .minor house" or that a "fantastic effort has failed" (502), his ovm inuriediate ejcperience frequently belies the despondency. In "The Hermitage at the Center" (505-06), his iui^ige of love gradually merges with iBimediate sensations until his interior woman presence becomes one with th« female eai'th* Procoedixig in counterpoint, the poem at first sharply separates outer and inner, sennation and ideal: The leaves on the macadam maice a noise-How soft the grass on v.'hicU the desired Reoliries in the temperature of heaven. . , . But as the "desired" "attends the tintinnabuls . , . Of birds . » ." their external "intelligible t;;ittering" replaces "unintelligible thought," The poem closes w-tb his love presence no longer in the mind's "temperature of heaven" but serenely at hoiae in the circles of earth: And yet this end and this beginning art) one. And one last look at the ducks i? a lool: At lucenTi children round her in a ring. Above all, it is the power of earth chat doioinates Stevens' last poetry. Experienced in the fresh space of his o;ni pei. (^options, the flov^? of t hin^^^s becomes presential. In "Ro.'vlit;^' IS An Activity of the Most August Ii?iaginat5.on" (CPy VlC-11), this force of the iiwraediate earth is unusually pi'Onounced: Last Friday, in the big light of last Friday niglit, V/e drove home from Cornwall to Hartford, late. It was not a nignx; blovm at a glassv/orks in Vierma Or Venice, motionless, gathering time and dust.

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2^9 Thero was a crush of otvens^ ±y^grinding goins Under° the' front of the westward evening star, Tho vigor of glory, a glittering in the veins. . . . itoat the august imagination finally provides is the stage of "visible transformations" where solid earth meets visionary love. There was cm insolid billoi^ing of the solid. _ Night's moonlight lake -was neither water nor air. The boundaries of this space of the imagination reach from interior presence to external sensation. On one side, tho moonlight of the imagination discloses "the essential presence, say, / Of a mountain, expanded and el6vaT;ed almost / into a sense, an object the less;" at its other boundary, the imagination brings sense form to the indefiv:dt.3, disclosing ''the figure waiting on the road / An object the more. ..." The purpose that Stevens affinus at the end is the birth of sis^it, "as if being was to be observed. ..." The one moonlight, the various universe, intended So much iust GO be seen--a purpose, empoy Perhaps/ absurd perhaps, but at least a purpose, Cr>rtaiP and ever more fresh. Ahl Certain, for su.7e . . . (531-32) Man becomes the spirit of earth; his "chaoel rises from Terre .^xsevelie ... In exi air of fresliness, clearness, gr o enn-:^ 5 a , bluene s s " ( ^j2930 ) . -^ Of. Baird's incisive remarks on "St. Armorer's Church from the Outside," pp. 310-11.

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260 In such a chapel the rite of poetry remains paraiii.ount, the cosmogonic act of the '"Interior Paramour" (52'^.): Light the first lip^its of evening, as in a roora In which i-/e rest and, for small reason, think The world imagined is the ultimate good.

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A SELliCTSD BIBLIOGRAPHY Abel, Lioiift.l, "In the Sacrod Park," Partisan Ravj.eWj, 25 (V956), 8 6" 98. The Ach5. o'r'3i:xent_of_ Wallace^St eve n s . Ed. Ashley Brovm and 'lioDert Se Haller. Philadelphia: Lippinoott, 1962. Ackermaxi, R, D, "Stevens* 'Arcades of philadeJ.phia the Past»"= Th e Ex plicator, Zk (1966), He. 80. The Act of the Kind : Essays o n the Poetr;y_o_f Vfa jJt'tp.-onsT £d. Roy Harvey Pea'rce and J, Hillir, MTio"rr Baltimore: Joims Hopkins Press, 196^., Thomas J, J. "The Religious Meaning of Myth and Syrabol." Truths Myjbh, and 3;;T abol , ed, Thomas J. J» Altixer, Wiiliara A. Beardslee*, and J. Harvey Ycxmg. Enslowood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, 1962, pp. 8 MOB. Ba i, r d 5, Jaw s> s , Th e Do7?ie_ ^\d. the _^Rock; Struct ure in the po e t r y J?r Walla ce^'sTe Ven . Bal t info r eT Johns Hopkins Pre s s , f^b , BvuiJ/jTiou, lilchel, "V/allaoe Stevens: Some pLelations Between poetr?/ and Painting." Gomg ara t i ve Li tj-r-ra ture , 11 (Winter1959); rpt, in The Achi evement, of V/allac e _St.8V3n3, pp. 232-118. " "". '"" ~ BiooH, Hs.r-old, "ITotea^ toward _a Supre m e Fi ct5.cmt A Gara:nentar^-7^' [lixli&'ce S tevens; A Gollection, pp. c.:^?ll"7!^My'^"^i3ki£t5.'' ^'^^^"'^ Haven: Yale Univ* Px'esy,"T959. ""*" ric.rroff., Mariso "Introduction; Wallace Stevens: The TJoxO.a end the Poet." Wallace Stevens ; A Oo llection.y pp, Bruns, Gerald L. "Poetry as Reality: The Orpheus Myth and Its Modern Couriterports. '' ELH, 37 (1970), 263-86. BuLtel. Hobei-t, Wal_ia.c_e Stevens; _^Tho Makinp; of Harmon PrincstonT px'ihcnrto.n l.;nlv» Press", T'/G7 * ium, 261

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262 Csjtnbon, Glauco . The lu3iy& Flarn o; Stu di es In Modem /imerican Fo e x^vj T blooriington, Ii.;.d. : Ijidiana liniv. Press, 'r^ZT* Caiapb 3l 1 , Jo s oph . The Flig ht of the Wild Gander : ^Exp lorations in t he Mv tholo' g-ical biraension . New York: Viking, 19^9. . Th e Hero with a Thousand Faces . 19i|.9; rpto Hew York: Meridian, 1 95^» , The Masks of God: Creative Myt h olo:?y , New York: "^ ^Viking, f^ES~, _» The Masks o f God: Occ id ental Mytholog y. New York: Viking, 'i"^. "" . The Mas ks of God; Primitive Mythology . Nev; York: . Viklng7^9i?9. . "Mytholof^ical Themes in Creative Literature and Art." Myths , Dreams, and Religi on, pp. 138-75. Casslrer, r'rnst, A.n Essa y on M .a n; A n Introduction to a phdloso'^hy of Hura.O.n Cul t lire. ' NeK* Haven: Yale Univ. Pr3ss7^"95ir. __ _^^ , Language aad Myr.h, trans. Sussnne K, Langer. Nevj York: "Hai^per, V^l^t, , Iris Myth of the State. 1 9i|-6; rpt. Garden City, W. Y.: L-o able day, r9"5Fr" ^ _^ , The phj loftophy of Symbolic Forms , Vol, 2: My t h i c al 'In o ugh t , trans. Ralph Manheim, New Haven: YaTo Univ." Press, 1955. Cuirainghaxa, J» V. "Tradition and Modernity: Wallace Stevens." Poetry, 75 (Dec. 191+9); rev, rpt. in Traciti on and Foetic Structux'e, Denver: Svrallow, I'^tO; r-Qtl In Tno Ach i'bveme irb of Kalla ce r.t eve ns , pp. 123-40. Dembo, L, S. C_(ync. options of Reality in M odem Am erican poeti'j^^, B6rkoie"y': birJ.v. of^Caiiforriia" press, T966. DoggcLt, Frank. s tc ven, s ' Foe t r ^7 of "Hiough^. Baltimore: Johixn Hop'kias""pre3Sj 1 9fc>o. Done ghu e , Denl s , ^IBs^Ps. S,^^'^ rs of Cliaos; Ideas of Orde_r_^ln.

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263 Drev;, Elizabeth, T. S. Eliot; The Design of His Poetry. N ev? To rk : 'Sc ri bne r ' s , 1 9h-9 . Sliade, Hircea. _Co.graos and History: The ^f y _ th of the Et erna l R 3 tur n, trans. Vdllard R. Trask, Orig, The My th of the L'ternal Return , 1954; rpt. New York: Harper, r9T9. _, Pa 'Sheed itterris in_Comr)r>_ra^ive_ Re^Af^io^n, trans, Roaeraary :U f9>Bl"rpt/*liew YorkT Me"rid:la.n, 196.3. ,v The _Sacred and_ the Profexi.o;jn:ie Nature of "RelTfyj^on. trans,' iViTiard "R, Trask, KeK Yox-k: Harper, 1959. <;iiot, T. S. The Complete Poems and Plays; 1 909-1 95Q'> N«w York; Har court, BreTce & IVorld, 1 9o2I Piedlery Leslie A. NoJ JA t e r a tur o . Bo s in T hvuider ; Bs s a ys on Kyth and "tonT Beacon, f^O, esp, Pt, If." P'l-^ajik. Joseph, "Spatial Form in Modern Literature." The LiTeja tixc c. 7 1965; rot. Bloofaxngton, Ind, : Indiana Tiniv," Press, 1968, pp. Ii.-62, Frye, IJorthrop, Ana tomy o f ^ Cr i tic i srn. | ppt. Kcw York: AtneneTin, T"9F6. ?our Essays. 1957; "The Archetypes of Literature." Keny on Re vi e\-i , "'13 ('t9-S'1}, 9?--liO; rpt. in Myth aiid LiTerature, pp. _, "Design as a Creative Principle in the Arts." ^-••^ H idden Harmony; B saa^ys ^ in Hono r of Phil ip I^f\i}iSi.^lii.* -^^^^^ Yoi.'T<: Odyssey, 1'^'o'^'pp. T3-22c Fables of Identi ty ;jStudi s s__in_P o e t ic My tholo.i^y . *']aoW York: Harcourt, Brac8"& Ivorldj^'r^B". .„" "' }i/J Ho d »::rn G o;:x tur y , The V/hidden I.ectures 1 96y, TorcTn'to: Oxford Univ." Press, 196?, __* ''Ifew Directions from Old," I>Iyth_ and J-^ythj;-iaking, t-d. lionry A, Murray. Kew Y'ork; Bra-iTlJ erT""! ^oTj";" rpu. in Fables of Identit y, pp. 52-66, f "The Realistic Oriole; A Study of V/allace '""st e von s , " The Hudson BdMl.ev:, 1 ( I 95 7 ) , 35370 ; rpt, ill Fa bl e s of I d en_Ta. t y ; rpt. in Wa JJ^ac^ ^te vjens_£^ A Co llect ion , pp . ' 6r^'76r

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Frye, North-jXip. "The Roraantic Mytlj," A Stud y of En relish Romanticism , New York: Random, 1 966, pp. 3-5-9'. Greene., Theodore M. "The Arts as Revelation and Coraraunication ; A Perspective on Metaphor and Reality ." The Hidden Harrp.on y: Essays i n Hoi:!Qr of P hi lip V/heclwriKht . New Yorks (Jdyssey, 1 96iB, pp. 23-ij.O. Heller, Erich. 'The Ar t i s t « s Jo urn ey in to the In t er i o r; An d Oth er Essays. Nev; York: Random, 1 963'^ James, S. 0, The Cult of the M o ther-Goddess: An A rchaaolofsical and Docimentary~"stuQy . London: Thariie's and Hudson, '."^WI Jarreilj Randall. "The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens." The Yal e R eview, i^i[. (Spring 1955); rpt. in The Ac hi'evenent of "v/allace I-, tevens , pp. 179-92. Jung, C Cr, Aion: Re searches into the Fhenomono logy of the Gelf^ trans « "h, :^\ C, Hull. Zn d" e'cfT'Eoll ingen "series, No. 20, Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1968. <. 'IIj e Arc) J e ty p e s and t h e Collec t ive Unco nscio u_s , trans. R, F. 0. HulTI Sid ed, Bollingen Series, FOe 20, Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1968. _c Memories, Drecuns, Ref lection s, ed, Aniela Jaffe; trans'.' Richard and Clara Winston. New Yoi-'k: Rauflom, 1963. Kermodej Frank. VY^allace St evens. New York: Grove, 1 961 . Langer, Susanne K. "On Cassirer' s Theory of Language and Myth." The Philosoph y of Ernst Cass irer , pn, 38I ifbo. . Philosophy in a New Key: A Study in the Symbollsin SSS^'^3J^.£^H.'s'-^-/^9 * "^^^ "Ar"t> T942yrpt^ New York:" Nev? ~Sae^"i can" Library/. T^S, Lentri c chi a „ Frank . Thc^ Gaiet y of L anguage: A n Essay on the ^z}?A^ .? J^.--_ ? P '^ ^4 "^'^. ^7 " ''''* B. Y eats a nd Walla_ce^__Ste.vena. ?ers\)e"ctives In "Crltic'ism, No. 1*9, Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1968. Macksoy, Richard a, "The Climates of Wallace Stevens. " The Act; of the Mind, pp. 185-223. Mart a, Louis L. 'Ihe__ Poem of the Mindj Essays on Poetry / E?i.'-: 1 i sh and Am 8 ig c an . New Yorlcl bxf ord~Tbiv, Fi'ess, T"
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^65 Hartz, Louis L. "l-:alD-ace Stevens; The Skepbical Music." Grig, "The //orld of ^"allaco Stevens," in MoCe.rn _^crj.can Po etry J _ j"'ocu3 Five, ed^ B. Rajan, London; DoDson^' 1930; rpt, in The Foeia of the Minc3 , pD. 183-99. ^, "V/allace Stevens: The World as Meditation." The "^ Yale Revie vj, ij.? (1958), 517-36; Literature ejad BeTI&I-; r^nr^l ish Institu te Essays, edT M, H. A'&raro.s, New York: Co'lianbia Univ. Press, 1955; rpt. in 'rn_e Poem of the Llind , pp. 200-23; rpt. in The A chievement of v ;allace Stevens, pp. 211-31; rpt. in wall ace Stej'efx.--i; A Col lection , pp , 133-50. Millers J. Hillis. Poets of Reality. Cambridge, Mass,: Harvrard Univ. Press, 1963* M3.11S, Ralph J. "V/allace Stevens: The Imar^e of the Rock, ' Accent, 18 (1958), 75-89; rev. rpt. in Wallace St e'/en s ; A Co 1 1 e c t i on , pp. 96-110, KoritagUj M. F, Ashley. "Cassirer on l^^thological Thinking." The Philoso phy of Ernst Gassirei% pp . 3 61 7 7 . Morse, Sarnuel French. VJal lace Stevens; Po etry as Jo fe. Nov; Yo r k : P e ga sus , T S"'^^ , Mimscn, Gorham B. "The Dandyism of V7allace Stevens." The Dial J 79 (Nov. 1925); rpt. in The A chieve-ment of Wallace Stevens , pp. 1^.1 -ii5. ^iZ^3ili .-^J^.^.^Jy-^"^ • ^9Jl^5'?'P.^.y.g-^y '^'^^^^y.-Q-^^'^ "^ ractice , Ed . """ John B, Vickery,. Lincoln: Univ. of Iv'eLraska Press, 1 966. Myth s, Pre pt;. 6, and Reli,c:ion. Ed, Joseph Campbell, Kov/ ''Yc~f>r: 'Loaotcni f^TD. ^crjior, vfilliar.i Van. The Shapinp. Spirit : A Study of Wall ace Stovens ." Or.Tcago: Henry r;e"gn.ery, 1 950. O'Cc Olcottj, William Tyler, Myths of the Sion. ; A Collection of Myths ojgd Iiegeri ds^ '^Conpfmiin,^^^^ Sim z-xid. _Its_ Worsliip-, Orrig, Siy. Lorc^ of ''.4ir~"Ages,~T9T?T7'''rp'C. I'k'^v; YorTki Capri corn, ''i9t;T» Pack, n'.-bfrto Wallace Stevens ; An Ap proach to jis Poet r-y a.:od Ttiou^ht." 1~93'3T"*rp'r. , New'^Yoflf; "Gordian, T95BT Pearce-i Roy Parvey, The Conti nui t y of Ameri can. Poetr;/, Prinf;ftton: Princeton Univ. "press," 1~^;c"1~,

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266 pearce,, Roy Harvey. "Wallace Stevens: The Last Lesson o£ ths Mafjter." ELH, 31 (196[l), 64-65; rpt. in The Act of the >and, pp. 121-ij.2. ^, "Wallace Stevens: The Life of the Imagination,." "PMLA, 76 (1951 ), 561-02; rev., rpt. in The Conti nuity of Am erican Poetry ^ Ch. 9; rpt, in Wa ]. 1 ace S t e v s'ns ; A Coiric tion, pp. 111-32. The Philosophy of Ernst Cassire r. Ed. Paul Arthiir Schilpp. The Library of Living Philosophers, Vol, 6, Evanston: Library of Living Philosophers, 1949* Quinny Sister M. Berne tta. T he Metaphor ic Tradi t ion in Kode ni Poetry; Ess a ys' on t , he '.vork of io^r a" Pound , 'W'al .tace Stevens, IvT iliatiT Tjarlos l.'iiliam.S;. T . _S. Eliot, Hart Crane, Ra nda ll Jarre jLl,_a nd yvillia:n Butler Ye aus. New Brunswick, IT. J.: iiaitgers Un'iv. Press, 19.'-/5'T Riddel, Joseph N. The Clair yoyant Eye; The Poetry and Po etic s of Wallace Stevens . "Baton Kouge ; Louisiana State Univ. Press, 1 965. Roheira, Geza. Ma gic and Schizophrenia, ed, Warner Muensterberger. 1955; rpt. Bloomj-ngton, Ind. ; Indiana Univ. Press, 1962, Sewell, Elizabeth. The Huraan Meta phor. Univ. of Notro Dame Press, 'T^fSfj^' ' . Ths Orphic Voice; Poetry an d Natural History . New Haven; Yale Univ. press, 1 9"60 , Stevons, \'Jallace. The Collec ted Poems of W allace Stevens . Now York; KiTopTTT^^.. . Letters of Wallace Stev ens . Ed. Holly Stevens, Now York: ivnopf, 1 9667" _^ , Tlte^ Na cessa r y /u i;?,el; E ssay s on Reali ty eiid the ImAgxria'tron . Nev/ York: Ivnopf ^i ^951 . ^^^ ^ o Opus Poc, tbumo us . Sd. Samuel French Morse, Ncv; ""York: Kziopf, T^Sl -' Sypher, 'wylie. Loss of the ge If In Modern Literature and Art . New York: Random, 'njoSl Vendler, Helen Henjiessy. C^i _ Ext ended V/i ng 3 ; Wal 1 ace '^ ^ ® ^'' g^.'l'^ ^-^•'Rr' ^^ ^^ '^:IIlF' CaJoFr rSge , Mass.: Ha r va r d Tlril'v, " Pr rt's s , 1"V£^"

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267 Wagner, C, Roland. "A Central Poetry," The Hudson Revj.ew., 5 (F-Pi'ing 1952), 'li;i|-ii8; rpt, in Wall ace Steven;>: A Collection, pp. 71-7,'^.. yall ace Steven s; A Collection of Critic aP. Essay s. Ed. Marie Borrof'f. Twentieth Century \/i»v;3j, Englewood ClilTs, N. J. t Prentice-Hall, I963. (Abbreviated jiullace S t even 53; A Collectio n) . Watts, Alan vh "VJestem 1-^thology: Its Dissolution and Transfo'raiation, " I^ly th s , Dr e am s ^ ,and l-'toligion, pp. 9-25. liJheelwright, Philip. The Buming Pountain : A_Study_ in_ the Lan~:aaae of Sy f ribolism . "Rev, sd." Brooniington, Ind, : Indiana Univ. press, 1963, , Meta phor an d Reality . Bloo:nington, Ind.: Indiana ~''Ohiv ."'.Press, \"^U2., ___^_ . "notes on Mythopoeiae" Sewane e Revieiv , 59 (195'');. ""' ' '"5?^-!"9'l; rpt, in M yth and LiTer a tur-e , pp. 59-66. Winters, Yvor. "Wallace Stevens: Or the Hedonist's prof;ress." _0n Kodern Poets, Net/ York; Hex^idian, 1959, pp. ri-3T. Yeats, VJ", B, The C ollected Poems of W*. B„ YcatG. New York: Macirdllian, 'Fv^G.

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH R. D. Ackerrcan was borri Jxily 21 , 1 936, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He graduated from Roger Ludlowc High School in Fairfield. Connecticut, in June, 195UHe rocoived a Bachelor of Arts degree with a xaajor in English frora Colgate University in June, 1956, and a Master of Art.-? degree v:ith a major in English frora the University of Connecticut in June, I960, Pron September, 1960, to Jvno, 1966, he v:as variously en Instructor or a teaching a?sij:tant; in the SngliCiV; Department at the Univer.-jity of Florida. From Septcaaber, 1 966, to the present he has been a Lecturer In the English Department of the University of Ariaona.

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I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. fordon E. BigeloWj Ch; Professor of English I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it coitforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. V^JK Peter Lisca Professor of English I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. / K.iX-VVU'^ ^ JL v\aM-^ Thomas L, Hanna Professor of Philosophy This dissertation was submitted to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and to the Graduate Council, and was accepted as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy June, 1971 Dean, College o Dean, Graduate School

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G.A1.0. 13.189. J