Friday, August 07, 2009

Poetry Friday: The Poem That Took the Place of a Mountain

I've mentioned Wallace Stevens before.

Once, at Sara Lewis Holmes' Read - Write - Believe, I said of him, when comparing and contrasting with Billy Collins:

Billy Collins is like the pal you love and go out with for coffee ... the friend with whom you never have a conflict, because you always know exactly what he means. And he gets you, too, and you love him for that. And then you order more coffee and sigh and think, "If only everything could be this easy."

Wallace Stevens is like your inscrutable uncle, who isn't always kind, and sometimes doesn't seem to want you around, but who's so complex and interesting that you keep having him over. And when you pin him down on something, and whisper to your mother, who's sitting next to you, that now you know why he's like this, he smiles cryptically, and looks away.

Your coffee friend would, of course, be insulted at being analyzed, but your uncle practically begs for it.


(Thanks, Sara, for reminding me awhile back that I said that, and thanks for finding me italicizable.)

I am not trying to be contrary, but contrary to popular (read: my) belief, today's poem by Wallace Stevens isn't of the inscrutable stripe. Atticus stumbled on it last night, and I'd never seen it before. It's amazing. It needs very little comment, so of course I'll comment. I think that anyone who has ever been devastated, overwhelmed changed, gobsmacked, or otherwise affected by a piece of writing, or anyone who has ever struggled to find exactly the right word for the moment, the image, the feeling, or the desire, can understand this poem.


The Poem That Took the Place of a Mountain

There it was, word for word,
The poem that took the place of a mountain.

He breathed its oxygen,
Even when the book lay turned in the dust of his table.

It reminded him how he had needed
A place to go to in his own direction,

(Read the entire poem here.)


Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect is hosting Poetry Friday today.

5 comments:

Bridget said...

Karen, did you watch "The Next Foodnetwork Star" Finale last night?

I had never watched it before, but had heard you post about it. I was thrilled when I turned the TV on to the Finale!

Bridget said...

My bad, Karen, I just saw your post about the Finale. I must have caught a rerun!

Sorry!

Anonymous said...

hey Karen,

The link to the poem is malformed. It's missing the : after the http.

Ron @ AH

Karen E. said...

Thanks so much, Ron -- I've been horribly sloppy with my links lately!

Karen E. said...

Bridget,
We're looking forward to Melissa's show, which starts, I think, this weekend. :)