Thursday, July 15, 2004
A Modification Of Wallace Stevens

So I'm in American Literature class tonight, weakly holding onto consciousness (I have class straight from 10am to 9pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays) as we make our way through William Carlos Williams' poetry. I enjoy parts of it more than others, but on the whole, I'm rather impressed with the work.

So the prof moves us along, after much discussion, and we shift from Williams to Wallace Stevens. Now, up to this point, I have very little experience reading Mr. Stevens, and my introduction to him is a pair of pieces by him 'attacking' the romanticism of Mr. Williams - not a way to get on my good side (especially since I myself am a bit of a romantic). Here's Williams' piece:

It's a strange courage
You give me, ancient star:

Shine alone in the sunrise
toward which you lend no part!
Here's Stevens' rebuttle:
Nuances Of A Theme By Williams

Shine alone, shine nakedly, shine like bronze,
that reflects neither my face nor any inner part
of my being, shine like fire, that mirrors nothing.

Lend no part to any humanity that suffuses
you in its own light.
Be not chimera of morning,
Half-man, half-star.
Be not an intelligence,
Like a widow's bird
Or an old horse.
Now, in class, I took the position that Mr. Williams, in this instance, was miles better than Mr. Stevens. Yes, I recognized what Stevens was doing, I just thought it would be better if he had stuck closer to the source material he was riffing from, rather than go off on his own rather rambling attempts at a response. This was all good natured, and the class was in a good humor. Half-jokingly, and in a similar good humor, the professor said, "Well, you do it better and bring it with you when you come back."

So I did. Before I left class, even. Actually, I walked up to the prof afterward, and handed her a scrap of paper with my poem. She read it, looked at me, and said, "Can I keep this?"

Now that just made my night! Oh, and in case you were wondering, here's how I 'one-upped' a great American poet:
It's an odd absence
you give to me, oh, light:

Of darkness and courage
in which you have no part.
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A webjournal of ideas, comments, and various other miscellany from a Texan university student (with occasional input from his family) living in Toronto, Ontario. Can you say "culture shock?"

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