Wallace Stevens

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

Quotations

  • ''Poetry is the supreme fiction, madame.
    Take the moral law and make a nave of it
    And from the nave build haunted heaven.''
    Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), U.S. poet. A High-Toned Old Christian Woman, Harmonium (1923).
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  • ''That other one wanted to think his way to life,
    Sure that the ultimate poem was the mind,
    Or of the mind, or of the mind in these
    Elysia, these days, half earth, half mind;
    Half sun, half thinking of the sun; half sky,
    Half desire for indifference about the sky.''
    Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), U.S. poet. "Extracts from Addresses to the Academy of Fine Ideas."
  • ''How clean the sun when seen in its idea,
    Washed in the remotest cleanliness of a heaven
    That has expelled us and our images . . .
    The death of one god is the death of all.
    Let purple Phoebus lie in umber harvest,
    Let Phoebus slumber and die in autumn umber....''
    Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), U.S. poet. "Notes toward a Supreme Fiction."
  • ''There may be always a time of innocence.
    There is never a place.''
    Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), U.S. poet. "The Auroras of Autumn."
  • ''The sorry verities!
    Yet in excess, continual,
    There is cure of sorrow.''
    Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), U.S. poet. "The Weeping Burgher."
  • ''Poetry is the supreme fiction, madame.
    Take the moral law and make a nave of it
    And from the nave build haunted heaven. Thus,
    The conscience is converted into palms,
    Like windy citherns hankering for hymns.''
    Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), U.S. poet. A High-toned Old Christian Woman (l. 1-5). . . Collected Poems [Stevie Smith]. James MacGibbon, ed. (1976) New Directions.
  • ''It had been cold since December. Snow fell, first,
    At New Year and, from then until April, lay
    On everything. Now it had melted, leaving
    The gray grass like a pallet, closely pressed;
    And dirt. The wind blew in the empty place.''
    Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), U.S. poet. "Extracts from Addresses to the Academy of Fine Ideas."
  • ''Life's nonsense pierces us with strange relation.''
    Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), U.S. poet. "Notes toward a Supreme Fiction."
  • ''We stand in the tumult of a festival.
    What festival? This loud, disordered mooch?
    These hospitaliers? These brute-like guests?
    These musicians dubbing at a tragedy,
    A-dub, a-dub, which is made up of this:
    That there are no lines to speak? There is no play.''
    Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), U.S. poet. "The Auroras of Autumn."
  • ''It can never be satisfied, the mind, never.''
    Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), U.S. poet. "The Well Dressed Man with a Beard."

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Poem Written at Morning

A sunny day's complete Poussiniana
Divide it from itself. It is this or that
And it is not.
By metaphor you paint
A thing. Thus, the pineapple was a leather fruit,
A fruit for pewter, thorned and palmed and blue,
To be served by men of ice.
The senses paint
By metaphor. The juice was fragranter

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