Thursday, 10 August 2017

Wallace Stevens creating a scene

-  from Wallace Stevens' Esthetique du Mal


Life is a bitter aspic. We are not
At the center of a diamond. At dawn,
The paratroopers  fall and as they fall
They mow the lawn. A vessel sinks in waves
Of people, as big bell-billows from its bell
Bell-below in the village steeple. Violets,
Great tufts, spring up from buried houses
Of poor, dishonest people, for whom the steeple,
Long since, rang out farewell, farewell, farewell.

Natives of poverty, children of malheur,                                            
The gaiety of language is our seigneur.

                            . . .

Wallace Stevens (1879 - 1955)

Esthetique du Mal is a 14-page poem of 15 verses. The poem is to be found in the collection Transport to Summer which was was published in 1947, and in The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens (a book to be treasured) which was published in 1955, the year of Stevens' passing, and awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

The Malheur Bell was the trademark of the Malheur Telephone Company of Oregon which was founded in 1895 and ceased operations in 2009.


  1. A man of great vocabulary and vision.

  2. There might be something different here for our next Poetry meeting in a fortnight, so I shall Google him Gwil.

    1. I'm very pleased you are still attending the poetry meetings. Long may it continue!

  3. In his book Wallace Stevens: The Making of the Poem, Frank Doggett called the ... "Life is not people and scene," he argued, "but thought and feeling. The world ...