Wallace Stevens

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

Phases Poem by Wallace Stevens


I.
There’s a little square in Paris,
Waiting until we pass.
They sit idly there,
They sip the glass.

There’s a cab-horse at the corner,
There's rain. The season grieves.
It was silver once,
And green with leaves.

There’s a parrot in a window,
Will see us on parade,
Hear the loud drums roll—
And serenade.

II.
This was the salty taste of glory,
That it was not
Like Agamemnon’s story.
Only, an eyeball in the mud,
And Hopkins,
Flat and pale and gory!

III.
But the bugles, in the night,
Were wings that bore
To where our comfort was;

Arabesques of candle beams,
Winding
Through our heavy dreams;

Winds that blew
Where the bending iris grew;

Birds of intermitted bliss,
Singing in the night's abyss;

Vines with yellow fruit,
That fell
Along the walls
That bordered Hell.

IV.
Death's nobility again
Beautified the simplest men.
Fallen Winkle felt the pride
Of Agamemnon
When he died.

What could London’s
Work and waste
Give him—
To that salty, sacrificial taste?

What could London’s
Sorrow bring—
To that short, triumphant sting?

Submitted: Monday, April 05, 2010

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