Learn More

Wallace Stevens

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

Metaphors of a Magnifico


Twenty men crossing a bridge,
Into a village,
Are twenty men crossing twenty bridges,
Into twenty villages,
Or one man
Crossing a single bridge into a village.

This is old song
That will not declare itself . . .

Twenty men crossing a bridge,
Into a village,
Are
Twenty men crossing a bridge
Into a village.

That will not declare itself
Yet is certain as meaning . . .

The boots of the men clump
On the boards of the bridge.
The first white wall of the village
Rises through fruit-trees.
Of what was it I was thinking?
So the meaning escapes.

The first white wall of the village...
The fruit-trees...

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

Do you like this poem?
0 person liked.
0 person did not like.

What do you think this poem is about?



Read poems about / on: song, tree, metaphor, rose

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (Metaphors of a Magnifico by Wallace Stevens )

Enter the verification code :

  • Rookie Gary Witt (8/23/2009 1:48:00 PM)

    A magnifico was a noble in ancient Venice. The word is now used to describe someone who affects grandeur or lordliness. Pomposity comes to mind.

    So the first question is, who is the magnifico? Is it Stevens? Or is Stevens putting words in someone else’s mouth? (Cf., Nomad Exquisite.)

    It strikes me this is a satire on pseudo intellectuals. The narrator appears to be the magnifico. He has created a series of metaphors that may be on the right track, but he doesn’t have the intellectual power to push forward with them. Meaning ultimately eludes him.

    So, yes, twenty men crossing a bridge can be viewed as twenty men crossing twenty bridges. Each man, after all, experiences the crossing differently. Alternatively, the men may be of a single mind, or have a single purpose; in which case they will appear to be a single man crossing that bridge.

    None of this seems very useful, however. Indeed, it seems pompous, empty. It is a metaphor of a magnifico. The twenty men crossing a bridge “will not declare itself.” Even though its “meaning” is certain, it is not particularly useful.

    Likewise, what other people think or perceive is not useful. Twenty men, one man—it is all the same. Instead, meaning is found in one’s own perception: the sound of the boots clumping on the boards of the bridge, the first white wall, the fruit trees. But even then, when the magnifico begins to pay attention to the details, and to pursue them—when he seems on the verge of deciphering meaning—meaning slips away. And he must begin again, with the first white wall, and the fruit trees. Meaning is elusive.

    Now, multiply that elusiveness by twenty. Or more.

    Does this relate in any way to the notion of “fictive music, ” or to the use of metaphor to discover meaning? Cf., Of Modern Poetry. I suspect all of our metaphors are those of “magnificos, ” and all of our conclusions are “fictive music.”

    I also suspect that this is one of those rare occasions when Stevens is lampooning himself.

    -G (Report) Reply

Read all 2 comments »

New Poems

  1. Clocks, fiona sinclair
  2. Day Tripper, fiona sinclair
  3. Internet Dating, fiona sinclair
  4. Precious life it is!, Gangadharan nair Pulingat..
  5. Family portrait, fiona sinclair
  6. Post dated appointment, fiona sinclair
  7. Moody hopes, Chai Amos
  8. About your mother's face, fiona sinclair
  9. When The Palmist Said, You Will Have Two.., Bijay Kant Dubey
  10. Slow Burner, fiona sinclair

Poem of the Day

poet Ralph Waldo Emerson

Knows he who tills this lonely field
To reap its scanty corn,
What mystic fruit his acres yield
At midnight and at morn?

In the long sunny afternoon,
...... Read complete »

   

Trending Poems

  1. 04 Tongues Made Of Glass, Shaun Shane
  2. Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
  3. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  4. Daffodils, William Wordsworth
  5. Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
  6. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
  7. Dreams, Langston Hughes
  8. All the World's a Stage, William Shakespeare
  9. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
  10. Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou

Trending Poets

[Hata Bildir]