Adorning the Rock (1)
Adorning the Rock (2)
Adorning the Rock (3)
Twisted, stooping, polymathic Z
When we last saw Wallace Stevens he was in a bar, in a bad mood. Indeed, late style might be thought of as bringing a bad mood (and the bar) to the process of creation. Anyway, Uncle Wallace is in a Blarney Stone in downtown Hartford, seventy years later. After some prefatory grumbling he writes this monster of a sentence, which I have taken the liberty of copying out without the line breaks:
The meeting at the edge of the field seems like an invention, an embrace between one desperate clod and another in a fantastic consciousness, in a queer assertion of humanity: a theorem proposed between the two—two figures in a nature of the sun, in the sun’s design in its own happiness, as if nothingness contained a métier, a vital assumption, an impermanence in its permanent cold, an illusion so desired that the leaves came and covered the high rock, that the lilacs came and bloomed like a blindness cleansed, exclaiming bright sight, as it was satisfied , in a birth of sight.
The meeting at the edge of the field seems like an invention.
A long sentence has the advantage of ordering information. You get to show the reader the relative importance to be placed on each and every clause in the story. The periodic sentence is the mother of long sentences. Here’s Ann Radcliffe in Romance in the Forest:
While he was declaring the ardour of his passion in such terms, as but too often make vehemence pass for sincerity, Adeline, to whom this declaration, if honourable, was distressing, and if dishonourable, was shocking, interrupted him and thanked him for the offer of a distinction, which, with a modest, but determined air, she said she must refuse.
She said she must refuse.
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