Wallace Stevens

(October 2, 1879 – August 2, 1955 / Pennsylvania / United States)

Contrary Theses (II) Poem by Wallace Stevens


One chemical afternoon in mid-autumn,
When the grand mechanics of earth and sky were near;
Even the leaves of the locust were yellow then,

He walked with his year-old boy on his shoulder.
The sun shone and the dog barked and the baby slept.
The leaves, even of the locust, the green locust.

He wanted and looked for a final refuge,
From the bombastic intimations of winter
And the martyrs a la mode. He walked toward

An abstract, of which the sun, the dog, the boy
Were contours. Cold was chilling the wide-moving swans.
The leaves were falling like notes from a piano.

The abstract was suddenly there and gone again.
The negroes were playing football in the park.
The abstract that he saw, like the locust-leaves, plainly:

The premiss from which all things were conclusions,
The noble, Alexandrine verve. The flies
And the bees still sought the chrysanthemums’ odor.

Submitted: Monday, April 05, 2010

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