I love Wallace Stevens, but in a complicated way. I love his imagery, and his intellect, and the way he leaps from thought to thought so effortlessly, like a stone skipping across water.
But I’m not going to pretend that I always understand him.
Reading a Wallace Stevens poem is work, and sometimes it’s frustrating work. But when I’ve read one of his verses for the, oh, seventh or eighth time, and the little threads linking one concept to the next start to show through, weaving the images together into a meaning I can maybe sort of grasp – it is so worth it.
Here’s a stanza from “Le Monocle de Mon Oncle” that I like both on its own, and as part of the entire poem:
This luscious and impeccable fruit of life
Falls, it appears, of its own weight to earth.
When you were Eve, its acrid juice was sweet,
Untasted, in its heavenly, orchard air.
An apple serves as well as any skull
To be the book in which to read a round,
And is as excellent, in that it is composed
Of what, like skulls, comes rotting back to ground.
But it excels in this, that as the fruit
Of love, it is a book too mad to read
Before one merely reads to pass the time.
I do love that last line. For even more of Wallace Stevens’s delicious imagery, read the rest of the poem here.
I think it’s about love, sex, and mortality. I could be wrong, though. It’s complicated. What do you think?
*note – Gina at AmoXcalli is hosting the Poetry Friday round-up. Go see her pretty pretty blog.*