An article by Jeff Gordinier, "For Wallace Stevens, Hartford as Muse," in the Travel Section of last Sunday's NY Times gives a gentle introduction to one of my favorite poets; the article also provoked me to escape for an hour into a rereading of selections from my copy of The Collected Poems (Vintage Books, 1990). Poems by Stevens (1879-1955) celebrate ideas and are, like pieces of mathematics, suggestive of a variety of situations. (Work by Stevens was featured in these earlier blog postings: 15 December 2010 (from "The Snow Man"), 4 May 2011 ("The Anecdote of the Jar"), and 13 May 2011 (from "Six Significant Landscapes"). Here, reconciling opposites, are two of the five sections of Stevens' "Connoisseur of Chaos" -- also from The Collected Poems.
from Connoisseur of Chaos by Wallace Stevens
A. A violent order is disorder; and
B. A great disorder is an order. These
Two things are one. (Pages of illustrations.)
After all the pretty contrast of life and death
Proves that these opposite things partake of one,
At least that was the theory, when bishops' books
Resolved the world. We cannot go back to that.
The squirming facts exceed the squamous mind,
If one may say so. And yet relation appears,
A small relation expanding like the shade
Of a cloud on sand, a shape on the side of a hill.