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Sunday Morning Analysis



Author: poem of Wallace Stevens Type: poem Views: 8

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1

Complacencies of the peignoir, and late

Coffee and oranges in a sunny chair,

And the green freedom of a cockatoo

Upon a rug mingle to dissipate

The holy hush of ancient sacrifice.

She dreams a little, and she feels the dark

Encroachment of that old catastrophe,

As a calm darkens among water-lights.

The pungent oranges and bright, green wings

Seem things in some procession of the dead,

Winding across wide water, without sound.

The day is like wide water, without sound.

Stilled for the passing of her dreaming feet

Over the seas, to silent Palestine,

Dominion of the blood and sepulchre.



2

Why should she give her bounty to the dead?

What is divinity if it can come

Only in silent shadows and in dreams?

Shall she not find in comforts of the sun,

In pungent fruit and bright green wings, or else

In any balm or beauty of the earth,

Things to be cherished like the thought of heaven?

Divinity must live within herself:

Passions of rain, or moods in falling snow;

Grievings in loneliness, or unsubdued

Elations when the forest blooms; gusty

Emotions on wet roads on autumn nights;

All pleasures and all pains, remembering

The bough of summer and the winter branch.

These are the measure destined for her soul.



3

Jove in the clouds had his inhuman birth.

No mother suckled him, no sweet land gave

Large-mannered motions to his mythy mind.

He moved among us, as a muttering king,

Magnificent, would move among his hinds,

Until our blood, commingling, virginal,

With heaven, brought such requital to desire

The very hinds discerned it, in a star.

Shall our blood fail? Or shall it come to be

The blood of paradise? And shall the earth

Seem all of paradise that we shall know?

The sky will be much friendlier then than now,

A part of labor and a part of pain,

And next in glory to enduring love,

Not this dividing and indifferent blue.



4

She says, "I am content when wakened birds,

Before they fly, test the reality

Of misty fields, by their sweet questionings;

But when the birds are gone, and their warm fields

Return no more, where, then, is paradise?"

There is not any haunt of prophecy,

Nor any old chimera of the grave,

Neither the golden underground, nor isle

Melodious, where spirits gat them home,

Nor visionary south, nor cloudy palm

Remote on heaven's hill, that has endured

As April's green endures; or will endure

Like her remembrance of awakened birds,

Or her desire for June and evening, tipped

By the consummation of the swallow's wings.



5

She says, "But in contentment I still feel

The need of some imperishable bliss."

Death is the mother of beauty; hence from her,

Alone, shall come fulfillment to our dreams

And our desires. Although she strews the leaves

Of sure obliteration on our paths,

The path sick sorrow took, the many paths

Where triumph rang its brassy phrase, or love

Whispered a little out of tenderness,

She makes the willow shiver in the sun

For maidens who were wont to sit and gaze

Upon the grass, relinquished to their feet.

She causes boys to pile new plums and pears

On disregarded plate. The maidens taste

And stray impassioned in the littering leaves.



6

Is there no change of death in paradise?

Does ripe fruit never fall? Or do the boughs

Hang always heavy in that perfect sky,

Unchanging, yet so like our perishing earth,

With rivers like our own that seek for seas

They never find, the same receding shores

That never touch with inarticulate pang?

Why set pear upon those river-banks

Or spice the shores with odors of the plum?

Alas, that they should wear our colors there,

The silken weavings of our afternoons,

And pick the strings of our insipid lutes!

Death is the mother of beauty, mystical,

Within whose burning bosom we devise

Our earthly mothers waiting, sleeplessly.



7

Supple and turbulent, a ring of men

Shall chant in orgy on a summer morn

Their boisterous devotion to the sun,

Not as a god, but as a god might be,

Naked among them, like a savage source.

Their chant shall be a chant of paradise,

Out of their blood, returning to the sky;

And in their chant shall enter, voice by voice,

The windy lake wherein their lord delights,

The trees, like serafin, and echoing hills,

That choir among themselves long afterward.

They shall know well the heavenly fellowship

Of men that perish and of summer morn.

And whence they came and whither they shall go

The dew upon their feet shall manifest.



8

She hears, upon that water without sound,

A voice that cries, "The tomb in Palestine

Is not the porch of spirits lingering.

It is the grave of Jesus, where he lay."

We live in an old chaos of the sun,

Or old dependency of day and night,

Or island solitude, unsponsored, free,

Of that wide water, inescapable.

Deer walk upon our mountains, and the quail

Whistle about us their spontaneous cries;

Sweet berries ripen in the wilderness;

And, in the isolation of the sky,

At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make

Ambiguous undulations as they sink,

Downward to darkness, on extended wings.






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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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| Posted on 2017-07-17 | by a guest


.: :.

There is an alternative explanation, and I am quick to label it highly speculative. It might be argued that these are post-coital meditations. She becomes ambiguous later in the poem -- a frqquent trope for Stevens -- in that "she" can be the death prefigured in several religions. One thinks of Kali, the mother goddess of destruction. Freud wrote an essay on the three caskets in MERCHANT OF VENICE, and argues that the caskets are symbolic of three aspects of the 'female'-mother: the mother who brings us into the world, the mother who cares for us, loves us; and finally, the mother who finally ushers us off the scene.
I find here and elsewhere that Steven's perceptions of the numinous quality inherent in nature, the notion of the "mind of winter" which beholds nature, and other tropes are quite reminiscent of Buddhist thinking, notably Zen metaphysics. I am NOT arguing that Stevens was a Buddhist; he definitely was not -- but the preception of the "suchness" of reality, especially in the natural world, is pivotal in Buddhist thinking.
Stevens would not, I think, believe in re-incarnation, because that's just another way of keeping oneself sentient forever.
The value of appreciating impermanence has often been cited in the mystic literature. Japanese haiku -- which Stevens appreciated and mimed in 13 ways of looking at a blackbird -- are suffused with this sense of suchness.
Looking at what I have written, I think the most questionable -- and I believe this has been debated -- is whether the "moment" of the poem, a certain thoughtful langor, posits a post-coital state of mind.
However, it has been said -- in latin I believe, altho I don't remember who said it that "...after a sexual experience, everyone is sad..."
Appreciate the above comments. HR Greenberg,

| Posted on 2016-05-13 | by a guest


.: :.

There is an alternative explanation, and I am quick to label it highly speculative. It might be argued that these are post-coital meditations. She becomes ambiguous later in the poem -- a frerquent trope for Stevens -- in that "she" can be the death prefigured in several religions. One thinks of Kali, the mother goddess of destruction. Freud wrote an essay on the three caskets in MERCHANT OF VENICE, and argues not unpersuasively that the caskets are symbolic of three aspects of the 'female'-mother: the mother who brings us into the world, the mother who cares for us, loves us; and finally, the mother who finally ushers us off the scene.
I find here and elsewhere that Steven's perceptions of the numinous quality inherent in nature, the notion of the "mind of winter" which beholds nature, and other tropes are quite reminiscent of Buddhist thinking, notably Zen metaphysics. I am NOT arguing that Stevens was a Buddhist; he definitely was not -- but the preception of the "suchness" of reality, especially in the natural world, is pivotal in Buddhist thinking.
Stevens would not, I think, believe in re-incarnation, because that's just another way of keeping oneself sentient forever.
The value of appreciating impermanence has often been cited in the mystic literature. Japanese haiku -- which Stevens appreciated and mimed in 13 ways of looking at a blackbird -- are suffused with this sense of suchness.
Looking at what I have written, I think the most questionable -- and I believe this has been debated -- is whether the "moment" of the poem, a certain thoughtful langor, posits a post-coital state of mind.
However, it has been said -- in latin I believe, altho I don't remember who said it that "...after a sexual experience, everyone is sad..."
Appreciate the above comments. HR Greenberg,

| Posted on 2016-05-13 | by a guest


.: :.

the woman sits on the porch and is suddenly reminded that she would have gone to church in the past but doesnt go any longer
she thinks of christ's cruscifiction and wonders why we give beauty to god when there is plenty of beauty pleasant in the Earth
Stevens says we should give up the idea of Heaven in order to actually appreciate what we have one earth and stop expecting something beyond the sky(heaven)
the girl says she can be content with the beauty of the earth but wonders what will happen when it is gone because then we will have no promise of heaven to look forward to
she feels as if she needs some form of bliss that will never end
stevens states that we wouldn't have beauty without death because we need something negative to make us appreciate the positive
the girl wonders why we give heaven credit for all that we have here on earth and refers back to her thoughts of jesus finally deciding that he did not amazingly rise from the grave and palestine is just the location of his burial
she accepts the beauty of the earth and realizes that people will live on through nature and is content to simply appreciate the pigeons in the sky

| Posted on 2010-03-26 | by a guest


.: :.

Or God is nowhere, so why go to church? This poem seems to be more of a celebration of the death of God and all religion rather than a celebration of God and religion, though this thought seems to cause the poem to spiral downwards in the end.

| Posted on 2009-09-27 | by a guest


.: :.

Or God is nowhere, so why go to church? This poem seems to be more of a celebration of the death of God and all religion rather than a celebration of God and religion, though this thought seems to cause the poem to spiral downwards in the end.

| Posted on 2009-09-27 | by a guest


.: :.

Wallace Stevens, you slay me.
Woman doesn't want to go to church, because God is EVERYWHERE~!!!

| Posted on 2009-05-19 | by a guest




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