Aug 20, 2010

Wallace Stevens, "Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock." South Haven, Michigan.

I haven't made anyone look at sailboats or the Stevens' poem since Febuary, so quit complaining.

Pretty picture. Menacing poem.
Simple picture. Complex poem.
Comforting picture. Challenging poem, maybe a kind of in your face poem that says, "You ain't no old sailor. An old sailor was a friend of mine. That's right, I knew an old sailor, drunk and asleep in his boots, and you, Sir, Lord and Lady Lace, in your white night gowns, you are no old sailor. Neither is she or that little lap dog, that little rat terrier feist."

Yin and Yang.

Today's big water is Lake Michigan at the town of South Haven--a touristy but tasteful little burg. I recommend it, especially if the alternative is Ontario's ballyhooed town of Tobermory at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula. In searching for scenes for like these, it was a big disappointment a couple years ago, especially with regard to lodging.

As a native Buckeye, I hate to admit it, but every once in awhile I see what these native Michiganders have to crow about.

Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock by Wallace Stevens : The Poetry Foundation [poem] : Find Poems and Poets. Discover Poetry.


PJ said...

I can't help but notice that I always seem to be inhabiting an alternate universe from everyone else when it comes to poetree appreciation but I have to wonder if Stevens didn't fall in love with the word ceintures and then build a poem about it. It's all very visual and ghostly. I also have to say that the old adage:

Red sky at night
Sailors delight
Red sky at morning
Sailors take warning

cannot be ignored here.

PJ said...

I've been meaning to say how much I love your photographs they're always interesting, especially the ones where you're observing people going about their business.

Anonymous said...

This one seems so mono-dimensional to me. Maybe I like the idea of Stevens, the poet and insurance lawyer, more than the actual Stevens.

Still, the Gray Room makes my heart skip a beat.

Gray Room
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.

Banjo52 said...

Paula, in any number of poems, I've wondered about individual words or lines that seem forced, seem to be a pet the poet can't give up. I agree that "ceintures" is certainly a candidate for that.

I assume the red sky adage was around when Stevens wrote this; surely he knew readers would hear its echo.

AH, I've never seen that poem, and I like it. Thank you. I haven't read that widely in Stevens, but it seems unusual for him to be that interested in human flesh and blood--never mind a romantic interest. Rightly or wrongly, I think of him as all brain, a detached analyst and philosopher, as an insurance lawyer should be (if we confine ourselves to stereotype). Do you remember how you first came across the poem?

Brenda's Arizona said...

I like how Stevens reminds us that, in poetry and in children's poetry books, night gowns are always white. Have you ever pictured a green night gown floating past a dark window at night? It is always white, right?

I, too, thought of Paula's 'red sky' poem. It detracted from the last line of Wallace's poem! Why red weather, I'd like to ask Wallace!

I love your Gray Room find, cousyn sister!

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Return to Camp Banjo

I didn't know who Steven's was until I opened up your post. I turned to Mr V and asked "do you know who Wallace Stevens is?" he said "yeah" I asked how and he said "I don't know, picked it up along the way"

and I'm not complaining....

Isn't this poem pointing towards the vast majority who will never build a Tyrolean Tepee in the desert? yet alone dream of it?

Banjo52 said...

Brenda, in "red" I hear "blood, passion, danger" etc. The rest of us are washed out--white, pallid, ghostly, etc. Not even blue or green or purple, much less red. Also, see last para.

I think PA agrees, and I like that comparison to the Tyrolean Tepee at your place, PA. That's exactly what I hear the poem driving at.

PA, I also like these little narratives--domestic or otherwise--about how we picked up this or that bit of info, or even misinformation, perspectives, etc. It's part of the HUMAN approach to responses to poetry.

I intend to do a post some day on the power of color--from sports uniforms, to flags and nationalism, to book jackets. It's mood rings on steroids. If anyone is interested, please nag me.

sandy said...

wow, beautiful photos!!

Banjo52 said...

Paula and Sandy, about the photos, thank you. I've always loved a zoom.

AH, as I meant to add, notice Stevens using colors in a way very similar to "Disillusionment"--from white and grey to the more vibrant.

Anonymous said...

He starts with a blank canvas and adds each color with great care. Usually it's just a dab.

Lovers' Lane