On Wallace Stevens' Writing Of Of Mere Being Poem by Dennis Ryan

On Wallace Stevens' Writing Of Of Mere Being

Rating: 5.0

Tuesday morning, May 22,2018; title to poem slightly revised on Wednesday morning, October 11, 2023 at 5: 48 a.m.

"It is only that this warmth and movement are like
The warmth and movement of a woman."
- Wallace Stevens, from "The Woman in Sunshine"

"Too actual, things that in being real
Make any imaginings of them lesser things...
So sense exceeds all metaphor..."
- Wallace Stevens, from "Bouquet of Roses in Sunlight"

When a man is alone,
all alone, alone in his head,
he writes "Of Mere Being"
and poems like it. The palm
at the end of the mind,
the real one, is located
in Key West— as far south
as Stevens would get—
warmth and seduction
are what Stevens craved,
and he alludes to them
in poem after poem. It is only
that this warmth and movement
belong to a body, a face
like Nausicaa's, her beauty—
that slip of palm in sunlight
that Odysseus observed—
that's what Stevens wanted.
In the half-light of early morning,
my hand lay on my wife's hip,
and could sense her breathing;
if anything is "holy'", this is;
her hand took his and drew
him to her, her hair fell...
Now I understand why Jesus
kept Mary Magdalene close,
and other women as well,
perhaps, that the Bible
never accounted for:
soul finds itself
at close quarters.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022
Topic(s) of this poem: psychological,writing,poetry,creativity,sexuality,women,relationships,religion,jesus,bible,soul,soul mate
The speaker of the poem, a poet, notes that when Wallace Stevens wrote his late poem ‘Of Mere Being', a highly abstract and hermetic poem, it appears that Stevens meant the poem to be largely undecipherable, its meaning(s) laying deep in the concrete details of Stevens' past everyday life as Stevens experienced them in his time and place. For example, Stevens uses the word ‘palm' in ‘Of Mere Being', a word Stevens must have associated with his vacationing in Key West, Florida during those long northern winters in which Stevens escaped from his home in Hartford, Connecticut many times to spend a few weeks in Key West where palm trees flourish, are ever-present. In sum, the meaning of the poem remain with Stevens, in thoughts and feelings he simultaneously acknowledged and suppressed at the time, being a respectable businessman and vice president of the Hartford Insurance Company.
Dennis Ryan 20 July 2022

You can read 8 other poems I have written on Stevens in my Poem Hunter account by typing 'Dennis Ryan' in the Poem Hunter search box.

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Dennis Ryan 20 July 2022

Thanks for liking my poem about Stevens, etc. It is one of my best on Stevens and his work.

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Smoky Hoss 19 July 2022

Superb poetry. One of the very best poems I have ever read. I love Stevens poetry; I love this poem also. Beautiful.

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Dennis Ryan

Dennis Ryan

Wellsville, New York
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