Wallace Stevens: Adorning the Rock

  This is the longest piece I ever wrote. I published it on extrasimile in four parts. it also appeared (and still appears, though it difficult to find) on00 arduity.com. You will be forgiven if you don’t read it, but it is something of f an Ars Poetica for me.       Donald HallContinue reading “Wallace Stevens: Adorning the Rock”

Freddy goes to Florida

The great train goes by like a great but grainy owl, like a black-and-white two-reeler that’s both a movie and a mnemonic—oh yes!— each view a polished memory, each stop, each station, each picket fence, every tree a hiding dryad! (Freddy’s read his Keats.) He smiles. We’ll go easy on the dryads. It seems thereContinue reading “Freddy goes to Florida”

Adorning the Rock (4)

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 isContinue reading “Adorning the Rock (4)”

Adorning the Rock (3)

Adorning the Rock (1) Adorning the Rock (2) Seventy years Later The first section of The Rock (is ‘canto’ appropriate here?) starts off so bleakly that the temptation is to skirt its title. Stevens was seventy or so when he wrote The Rock. It is obvious that he is writing about his life, and theContinue reading “Adorning the Rock (3)”

Adorning the Rock (2)

We live in an old Chaos of the Sun Our words want to turn the world into a human world, a place where humans live. Name something, write a sentence about it, talk about it, think up an adjective that applies to it, and you are bringing it into the human world. Go for it:Continue reading “Adorning the Rock (2)”

Adorning the Rock (1)

Great Poetry is Difficult Poetry, but… Donald Hall goes right to the point: I see no reason to spend your life writing poems unless your goal is to write great poems. Steven Spender is equally succinct: I think continually of those who were truly great./ Who, from the womb, remembered the soul’s history. It seemsContinue reading “Adorning the Rock (1)”

Too Much Music

1. I don’t know, you just can’t beat a good parade— And John Philip Sousa, either.  Either The Colonel Bogey March, or Stars and Stripes Forever—or—do both! A row of drums, A row of trumpets, fifes and flutes, my fav The glockenspiel, the cymbals, saxophones, Sousaphones, of course. Then—then—the Mayor’s car, The fire department, policeContinue reading “Too Much Music”

Bird in Space

The first sentence test: It is not a serious novelist’s nightmare (the possibility is so absurd); nevertheless, suppose you fancied yourself a serious novelist (a writer, as they say, of the first rank), and a wire were delivered in your dream (the telephone rang, there was a sudden knock), and this were followed by theContinue reading “Bird in Space”

The World as Meditation

The Sun, on the Horizon… Wallace Stevens was fond of writing and speculating—and (if I may) poetizing and philosophizing—about ‘the poem’. Inscribing a copy of his Collected Poems to one of Holly Stevens’ English professors, he wrote: When I speak of the poem, in this book, I mean not merely a literary form, but theContinue reading “The World as Meditation”

Poetry about poetry and poetry about hunger

I too, dislike it, Marianne Moore writes in a poem she simply called Poetry: as if sensing the ensuing fate of poetry is to be genuinely ignored—but offers a quick apologia: poetry is a place for the genuine, she insists. It is useful. One must make a distinction however: when dragged into prominence by halfContinue reading “Poetry about poetry and poetry about hunger”