Friday, April 21, 2006

Poem of the Day

The poet Wallace Stevens is considered one of the masters of the 20th Century. I am paricularly fond of him, because he not only succeeded as a poet, but did out of academic circles. Stevens was an insurance man by trade, and the fact that he succeeded in the poetry world while working a 9-5 job sets him apart from the great writers of his time.

And he wrote a mean poem. A lot of his stuff is difficult to discern and requires great brain power, what many people don't like about poetry. But then, he wrote poems that had sounds, were filled with language that evoked sonic imagery. And whereas you have such brilliant thoughts like "Let be be finale of seem," from "The Emperor of Ice Cream," there is other more high-minded imagery, such as "The High-Toned Old Christian Woman."

Stevens is best known for his "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird," which has been copied and mimicked, perhaps, more than any other poem in the English language. See: Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man by Henry Louis Gates, or "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Thunderbird" by David Ives. I even wrote a poem once called "A Blackbird Looking Thirteen Ways." If you want to read Mr. Stevens poem, along with mine, they are posted one following the other on BillyBlog2 here.

However, one of my favorite Wallace Stevens poems is a little ditty called "Bantams in Pine-Woods." I just like the way it sounds:

Chieftain Iffucan of Azcan in caftan
Of tan with henna hackles, halt!

Damned universal cock, as if the sun
Was blackamoor to bear your blazing tail.

Fat! Fat! Fat! Fat! I am the personal.
Your world is you. I am my world.

You ten-foot poet among inchlings. Fat!
Begone! An inchling bristles in these pines,

Bristles, and points their Appalachian tangs,
And fears not portly Azcan nor his hoos

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