The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Tuesday

The Idea of Order at Key West
By Wallace Stevens

She sang beyond the genius of the sea.
The water never formed to mind or voice,
Like a body wholly body, fluttering
Its empty sleeves; and yet its mimic motion
Made constant cry, caused constantly a cry,
That was not ours although we understood,
Inhuman, of the veritable ocean.

The sea was not a mask. No more was she.
The song and water were not medleyed sound
Even if what she sang was what she heard.
Since what she sang was uttered word by word.
It may be that in all her phrases stirred
The grinding water and the gasping wind;
But it was she and not the sea we heard.

For she was the maker of the song she sang.
The ever-hooded, tragic-gestured sea
Was merely a place by which she walked to sing.
Whose spirit is this? we said, because we knew
It was the spirit that we sought and knew
That we should ask this often as she sang.

If it was only the dark voice of the sea
That rose, or even colored by many waves;
If it was only the outer voice of sky
And cloud, of the sunken coral water-walled,
However clear, it would have been deep air,
The heaving speech of air, a summer sound
Repeated in a summer without end
And sound alone. But it was more than that,
More even than her voice, and ours, among
The meaningless plungings of water and the wind,
Theatrical distances, bronze shadows heaped
On high horizons, mountainous atmospheres
Of sky and sea.
It was her voice that made
The sky acutest at its vanishing.
She measured to the hour its solitude.
She was the single artificer of the world
In which she sang. And when she sang, the sea,
Whatever self it had, became the self
That was her song, for she was the maker. Then we,
As we beheld her striding there alone,
Knew that there never was a world for her
Except the one she sang and, singing, made.

Ramon Fernandez, tell me, if you know,
Why, when the singing ended and we turned
Toward the town, tell why the glassy lights,
The lights in the fishing boats at anchor there,
As night descended, tilting in the air,
Mastered the night and portioned out the sea,
Fixing emblazoned zones and fiery poles,
Arranging, deepening, enchanting night.

Oh! Blessed rage for order, pale Ramon,
The maker's rage to order words of the sea,
Words of the fragrant portals, dimly-starred,
And of ourselves and of our origins,
In ghostlier demarcations, keener sounds.


Kids came home from school in seemingly good moods yesterday, then proceeded to have meltdowns over relatively minor things (one refused multiple servings of junk food, the other having to postpone plans with a friend until today due to homework). Of course there were health forms to be filled out in quadruplicate, requests for yet more binders, spiral notebooks, etc., various other papers to be signed, checks to be written, etc. so it was a rather hectic afternoon. Turned off the RNC because I could not handle my level of frustration and anger. Wonder if it's wrong to loathe McCain more for the ass-suckage than I loathe the typical extreme right-wingers from whom I expect this sort of tripe. And wonder if it's very wrong not to be in the least sorry that an arch-conservative from Virginia has been forced out of politics because his homophobic stance is incompatible with his closeted gay lifestyle, causing some of the people he has been trying to oppress to choose to out him.

The good news is that I inherited an old laptop from my father ("old" meaning 1999 Dell Inspiron). The bad news is that the case is badly cracked and needs to be repaired before it can be used, the single USB port doesn't work, and it has no CD-RW installed so even if it did not weigh a very great many pounds it would not be practical to take on vacations with us. The worse news is that my husband cannot be convinced that it makes more sense to spend a little more and get a newer laptop than to pay to repair this one and lug it around (undoubtedly so it can break again). This is one of those "be careful what you wish for" stories, in that my husband has burned his laptop into the ground making CDs of every Grateful Dead concert on the internet, but of course he can't be bothered to replace the CD-RW drive in that computer so it will be of some use while traveling. Sigh.

Stephen lounging on the deck railing...

...while Jack collects seeds that the birds have knocked down from the crow's nest. I mean, the bird feeder.

These are popular, taken last winter, is Stephen lounging on the deck railing while Jack stands watch...

...though of course once Jack realizes that they're being watched, he is ready to defend his deck!

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