Monday, November 15, 2010

"The Course Of A Particular"

The sound of boughs threshing in the wind is gone.  Now, a few dry leaves rattle overhead.  Which leads to the following poem -- a poem set in winter, not mid-autumn, but one that seems apt at this time of year.

                         The Course of a Particular

Today the leaves cry, hanging on branches swept by wind,
Yet the nothingness of winter becomes a little less.
It is still full of icy shades and shapen snow.

The leaves cry . . . One holds off and merely hears the cry.
It is a busy cry, concerning someone else.
And though one says that one is part of everything,

There is a conflict, there is a resistance involved;
And being part is an exertion that declines:
One feels the life of that which gives life as it is.

The leaves cry.  It is not a cry of divine attention,
Nor the smoke-drift of puffed-out heroes, nor human cry.
It is the cry of leaves that do not transcend themselves,

In the absence of fantasia, without meaning more
Than they are in the final finding of the ear, in the thing
Itself, until, at last, the cry concerns no one at all.

Wallace Stevens, "Late Poems," Collected Poetry and Prose (1997).

                                               William Fraser Garden
                                          "Near Bromham Hall" (1889)


zmkc said...

Beautiful. I'm enjoying discovering Wallace Stevens - it's almost as pleasant as that feeling when you're just starting to learn a new language.

Stephen Pentz said...

Thank you, zmkc. I'm happy that you like the poems by Stevens. I confess that I am often stumped by what he is getting at (particularly in his earlier years), and he can go a bit overboard on the playing with words (again, particularly in his earlier years), but there is no gainsaying the beauty of a great deal of what he wrote.

He is also, I think, the best titler of poems: for a delightful treat, I recommend reading the table of contents of his 'Collected Poems.'

As always, thank you for visiting, zmkc.