Giving Up on Wallace Stevens

I love Auden for many reasons—most principally because he understood Caliban was the best interlocutor for Shakespeare. That’s wisdom. I prefer it to beauty, though, like Caliban, I won’t vote beauty off the island. 


Poems rise and fall with whispered confidences. If you sit beside that ocean for long you’ll lose affection for some voices. I’m nowhere as fond of Wallace Stevens as I was in my twenties. For you it will be someone else. The enduring voices are brave. Auden; Dickinson; Whitman; Langston Hughes; Rexroth; yes, Williams. Muriel Rukeyser. James Wright. Neruda. So many brave ones. 


By forty I found I didn’t like Stevens whose poetry seemed like a rococo picture frame but without figures of candor. The houses are haunted by nightgowns but I didn’t care anymore. But I like these lines by Robert Bly:


“Why is it our fault if we fall into desire?

The eel poking his head from his undersea cave

Entices the tiny soul falling out of Heaven.

So many invisible angels work to keep

Us from drowning; so many hands

reach Down to pull the swimmer from the water.

Even though the District Attorney keeps me

Well in mind, grace allows me sometimes

To slip into the Alhambra by night.”


Excerpt From: Robert Bly. “The Night Abraham Called to the Stars.” iBooks.



You see, I don’t mind obscurity, but I need a heart as its conductor. 


Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

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