Poem-a-Day Friday: Wallace Stevens



Wallace Stevens is another poet whom I really ought to know better. But, ain’t gonna lie, he’s difficult for me. Any time I read a poet who obviously knows more than I do, I tend to shut down. I want to feel something, not learn something. (I’m an ENFP! Sue me!) So, he’s among the intellectuals who sit in my bookshelf taunting me because I have to look up so many ideas to even understand what they’re getting at. (Robert Lowell: Collected Poems, I’m looking at you, you massively big, hardback mocker.)

However, this poem-a-day thing is freeing me to face my taunters, because all I have to commit to is one poem. One poem! Wallace, you and I could be friends. Especially because I love your images. They’re crystal clear and cutting and I love this poem because you’d have us believe it is about the lack of color, when all along color is the secret force at work.

Gray Room

by Wallace Stevens

Although you sit in a room that is gray,
Except for the silver
Of the straw-paper,
And pick
At your pale white gown;
Or lift one of the green beads
Of your necklace,
To let it fall;
Or gaze at your green fan
Printed with the red branches of a red willow;
Or, with one finger,
Move the leaf in the bowl–
The leaf that has fallen from the branches of the forsythia
Beside you…
What is all this?

I know how furiously your heart is beating.

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