Sunday, March 11, 2012

Reading late and there

 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 most to be
The scholar to whom the 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.

In this poem we see Wallace Stevens meditating on reading late one summer night. The magic of Stevens here allows him to bring together the book, the house, the night, and the world with the reader. Inner and outer blend as the quiet calmness of the poem produces a reverie, and for the reader who is experiencing this -- perfection in the poetic imagery. One feels the solitude and escape from the everyday quotidian details of life. Perhaps this captures the feeling you have when you are able to escape through reading a book.

The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens, Random House, 1982 (1954)

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