Feb 6, 2011
Nomad Exquisite by Wallace Stevens : The Poetry Foundation [poem] : Find Poems and Poets. Discover Poetry
My gratitude to the Palm Beach Poetry Festival for introducing me to “Nomad Exquisite” by Wallace Stevens (as well as the poems by Anthony Hecht on Jan. 22 and Theodore Roethke, Jan. 28-31).
“Nomad Exquisite” begins as a sketch about Florida and quickly complicates itself into something much more intricate than a travel guide.
Another gaseous explosion of analysis from me is imminent; it’s currently at about 1,000 words. But I’m first going to toss out some questions for readers. I’d rather hear you play with the poem, at least for a while. If you are enthusiastic, maybe I'll put The Windbag in File 13, but no promises.
I apologize if these feel too much like a textbook’s study questions; I’ve tried to make them a little different. Also, I really am interested in your responses. In fact, I know a high-ranking Cyber Cop, and if you’ve read this far and do NOT respond to at least one question, your next batch of cookies will melt in the oven, you will upload on the download staircase, and a surfeit of snails will swarm in your garden. Oh yes—and your dogs will bark.
1. What do you like about the poem?
2. What do you dislike?
For a couple of decades at least, poetry people have been talking more and more about discovery in experiencing a poem. Along these lines, even the ancient Robert Frost wrote, “No surprise for the poet, no surprise for the reader.” Clearly, Frost’s point intends surprise as a good thing, an earned discovery or turn or eye-catching phrase, not a cheap gimmick that intrudes on and cheats the integrity of the poem.
3. In that context, what, if anything, surprises you in or about “Nomad Exquisite”?
4. Two surprising things I hear in the poem are a lot of repetition and an unorthodox portrait of a paradise. Whatever else you hear, do you hear either of those, and if so, what do you make of them?
5. If this poem were going to change somebody’s life, how might it do that?
Thank you. Now you may go and try to have fun in a different sandbox. But it will be dull by comparison . . . .
Nomad Exquisite by Wallace Stevens : The Poetry Foundation [poem] : Find Poems and Poets. Discover Poetry.