Wallace Stevens por Etzel Hinojosa. Desactivaré los comentarios el miércoles 20 de marzo a las 10 am.
As Etzel points out in her essay, Wallace Stevens is a transitional poet because his work articulates the passage from Romantic to Modernist poetry. This can be seen in “Domination of Black,” where the circular and perhaps transcendental meditation of the poetic voice is prompted by a keen contemplation of nature. However, as Etzel says, the poetic voice does not get “a transcendental epiphany” or “an illustrative revelation.” Instead the meditation of the poetic voice, “At night, by the fire,” triggers a set of dynamic images that possess color, movement, and sound. Stevens’ powerful and precise diction evoke the aforementioned sensual qualities.
Although the poetic voice does not mention a specific color, the images of the fire, “the fallen leaves,” “the heavy hemlocks,” and the trails of the peacocks suggest sepia hues that contrast with rich and bright greens. Regarding the movement, we can find that the movement of the whirling wind is the main force by which every element in the poem “Turns [ing]in.” Finally, the sound that pervades during this meditation is “the [ominous and disturbing] cry of the peacocks.” The sensual qualities evoked by the dynamic images confirm the “sole purpose of ‘Domination of Black’,” which is according to Stevens himself: “was not to purvey any ideas but to fill the mind with the images and sounds it contains” (Renza 2002).
I find very remarcable how the obscurity of the images calls the atention of the reader. It is certaintlly noticable that the poems are full of powerful and definte sensorial imagery that, as a mental process, can be regarded as random allusions whose machanisms of articulation seem based upon a subjective experience and perceptions. If this was not the case, they would work as symbols, when they pretend to be descriptions. This exuberant creations, so abundant in colours and many other sensual elements, are, contrary to their effect, very compressed. The individual lines hold each a concrete and definite picture,a complete, explicit and even obvious vision that is linked to next one without sintactical pauses or excesive narrations that might prevent the reading from giving the full idea in an straight forward way. By avoiding any unnecesary adornment, the poem con display its ominous beauty (like the peacocks) in a single enigmatic picture and sentence where the world develops to the presence of the reader who has been set in the same position as the describer. We can say that thefunction of the poem is to convey a scene and to render an impression of it rather than an explanation. As it has already been established this is what we find different in the Romantic poetry, the virtual abscence of an specific meaning.
I would like to add that some of this poems remind me of the Haiku for both use very condensed forms to produce a brief and hermetic text that evocates a whole set of emotions that echoes in the mind. I would say It also calls to mind the expresionist art, particularly the poetry of Georg Trakl that I can describe as notoriously similar. In this authors we find the use of a concrete imagery that is not subject to interpretation. They use the same strategy to produce an state of mind instead of an intelectual and rational reading.
The red poppy.
Darkening thunder drives
Over the hill.
The old song of the cricket
Dies in the ﬁeld.
The leaves of the chestnut tree
Stir no more.
Your clothes rustle
On the winding stair.
The candle gleams silently
In the dark room;
A silver hand
Puts the light out;
Windless, starless night.
The expresionism was different from impressionism in a subtle but essential aspect. Impressionists would restore to emotions to communicate and deliver a discourse which was the meaning behind the images. The expresionist would use the object and the image to channel an emotion beyond the form, not needing a figuraive or logical signifier behind. I think this is corresponding towhat Stevense pretends.
We could say that Wallace Stevens is part of those men and women who saw a disjunction in poetry, or at least the apparent disjunction between the poetic forms they had grown up knowing, reading, remembering and the sudden influx of different shapes on the page. These people, learned to think of poetry as one thing, yet they saw it as another. Nonetheless, it seems that for all of those transitional poets, their confusion and discomfort did not came from this disjunction for it was not only one, but several immersed in dialogue.
The powerful ruptures of forms and conventions that the modernist poets initiated in the second decade of the twentieth century were not abandonments of what had gone before them. They were in fact, more in a dialogue with it.
Then, would it be possible to consider form a fiction? A question which Pound, and Willams, and evidently Wallace ask. This question, reaches into the very core of what form is and it also becomes a question that goes deeper into the center of what form was, or, had been.
This dialogue I am referring to, is a powerful discussion about the relation of reality to expression, which is still felt in our time. It is not merely an argument regarding rhythms and rhymes and stanzas alone, but also their source; the powerful feelings and confusions about identity, expression, and subject matter that have prompted poets of all kinds in this century to voice their feelings. Thus, demanding from us, their audience, to view poetic form as a continuum, and not as a finished product.
Etzel points out that in the poem “Domination of Black” the repetition of certain words create the poem´s musicality: “their musicality depends upon the repetition of words: turning, turned, fire, flames, hemlocks, peacocks.” I agree with this idea, plus I belive that these words are threaded together in order to create the somber atmosphere of the poem and that they do actually result in a revelation. Since the cries of the peacocks that reappear at the end of the poem “I felt afraid./And I remembered the cry of the peacocks.” were already infused with death by the use of the word twilight “I heard them cry -the peacocks./Was it a cry against the twilight/Or against the leaves themselves” and because the planets can be seen not only as movement but as a a representation of time I think that there actually is a “trascendant epiphany”. After describing several images which seem compelling the poetic voice comes to the realization that indeed it fears death.