Today is the anniversary of the birth of Wallace Stevens, so I’ll give you a taste of one of my favorite 20th-century poems, “Sunday Morning,” and send you here for the rest:

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 measures destined for her soul.

So happy birthday, Wallace (and Bonnie to boot)! And there’s much more Stevens at today’s wood s lot.


  1. Aww. Happy birthday to our favorite insurance executive, indeed (didn’t he work for Merrill Lynch?). Good of you to remember. I’ll tell you one of my favorites of his —
    The house was quiet and the world was calm.
    The reader became the book; and summer night
    Was like the conscious being of the book.
    The house was quiet and the world was calm.
    The words were spoken as if there was no book,
    Except that the reader leaned above the page,
    Wanted to lean, wanted much to be
    The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom
    The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
    The house was quiet because it had to be.
    The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
    The access of perfection to the page.
    And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
    In which there is no other meaning, itself
    Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
    Is the reader leaning late and reading there.

  2. MoI! I always think of you, my muse, when I post poetry. Glad you’re still visiting these precincts.

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