Wallace Stevens

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

The House Was Quiet And The World Was Calm


The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night

Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.

The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,

Wanted to lean, wanted much to be
The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom

The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.

The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.

And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself

Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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  • Rookie Gary Witt (12/10/2009 9:53:00 PM)

    I like the relationship between this poem and 'The Reader, ' also by Stevens:


    The Reader

    All night I sat reading a book,
    Sat reading as if in a book
    Of somber pages.

    It was autumn and falling stars
    Covered the shriveled forms
    Crouched in the moonlight.

    No lamp was burning as I read,
    A voice was mumbling, “Everything
    Falls back to coldness,

    Even the musky muscadines,
    The melons, the vermilion pears
    Of the leafless garden.”

    The somber pages bore no print
    Except the trace of burning stars
    In the frosty heaven.

    Wallace Stevens (Report) Reply

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