Friday, November 18, 2011

"The Region November" Revisited

Things have turned from bright red and gold to rust and russet.  Today, as I walked through a grove of mostly empty trees, their trunks creaked and their branches clacked in the wind.  The grey swirls amidst the hills on the other side of Puget Sound may have been mist or may have been snow flurries.

It is, therefore, a perfect day to revisit one of my favorite Wallace Stevens poems.  To those loyal (and much appreciated!) readers who were here last November, I beg your indulgence.  But any good poem is worth revisiting, isn't it?  Here's one way to look at it (perhaps):  are you the same person that you were a year ago?

               The Region November

It is hard to hear the north wind again,
And to watch the treetops, as they sway.

They sway, deeply and loudly, in an effort,
So much less than feeling, so much less than speech,

Saying and saying, the way things say
On the level of that which is not yet knowledge:

A revelation not yet intended.
It is like a critic of God, the world

And human nature, pensively seated
On the waste throne of his own wilderness.

Deeplier, deeplier, loudlier, loudlier,
The trees are swaying, swaying, swaying.

Wallace Stevens, "Late Poems," Collected Poetry and Prose (The Library of America 1997).  Stevens wrote "The Region November" in the last year or so of his life.  It was first published in 1956, the year after his death at the age of 75.

                 Christopher Nevinson, "View of the Sussex Weald" (c. 1927)


Clarissa Aykroyd said...

Puget Sound! I grew up in the Pacific Northwest (Vancouver Island) and miss it... This is a great poem, too!

Stephen Pentz said...

Ms. Aykroyd: thank you very much for visiting again. Yes, this is a nice time of year here -- before the rain sets in in earnest! I'm pleased that you like the poem.

WAS said...

I consider myself a loyal reader, but I do not recall reading this poem, either on your page or otherwise. You make good with it on your contention that late Stevens is best. It's a very fine poem until you get to the last stanza -- and that's where the genius is.

Stephen Pentz said...

Mr. Sigler: as always, thank you for your thoughts. I agree that the last stanza does the trick: just when Stevens is getting a bit too abstract, he gets back to what is in front of him. (I suppose that this is a movement that we see again and again in his poetry: back and forth between imagination and the world, neither in itself being quite enough.)

Thanks again.