As long-time (and much-appreciated) readers of this blog know, there are certain poems that I return to at the same time each year. Thus, each November I visit -- no big surprise here -- "The Region November" by Wallace Stevens.
I return to it because of the pleasure to be found in its sounds: the "sway" and the "swaying," the "deeplier, deeplier," the "loudlier, loudlier." I return to it for the way in which the sounds turn into motion. I return to it simply because the title is wonderful: I love the thought of "the region November."
"At the Fall of Leaf, Arundel Park, Sussex" (1883)
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).
Alas, the question may arise: what does it mean? I'd say that the north wind and the trees are inscrutable, reticent, and devoid of emotion. I'd say that imputing anything to them other than what they are is folly, and that we best take them just as they are. However, I'd also say that we have it in our power to make of them what we will -- in an imaginative sense. But this in no way gives us power over them.
For example: someone may decide to write a poem titled "The Region November."
To wake, alive, in this world,
Shoha (translated by R. H. Blyth), in R. H. Blyth, Haiku, Volume 4: Autumn-Winter (Hokuseido Press 1952), page 217.