Sunday, June 15, 2014

Wallace Stevens - Poetry

Another poet that I haven't heard of, nor the poem either.  The title is 'Peter Quince at the Clavier'.  If my memory serves, Peter Quince is one of the bumbling actors from the play within 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'.  A clavier is a musical instrument from the piano family.  The entire play is too long to transcribe.  You can read the full thing here.

Just as my fingers on these keys
Make music, so the selfsame sounds
On my spirit make a music, too.

Music is feeling, then, not sound
And thus it is that what I feel,
Here in this room, desiring you,

Thinking of your blue-shadowed silk,
Is music. It is like the strain
Waked in the elders by Susanna.

Of a green evening, clear and warm,
She bathed in her still garden, while
The red-eyed elders watching, felt

The basses of their beings throb
In witching chords, and their thin blood
Pulse pizzicati of Hosanna.

I'm not sure I get this one at all.  If this is Peter Quince, bumbling fool, speaking to us, do we take it seriously?  I wouldn't think so.  And if we don't take him seriously, then these are, perhaps, concepts that he has heard about but doesn't understand.  In which case, the poem falls apart under its own weight.
Or maybe we do take it seriously, in which case there is some kind of message here.  Though maybe it is too subtle for me to really understand.  Susanna is spied upon and disturbed by others (Byzantines) at which point she is upset.  The beauty of herself (or her moment? her music?) breaks down and is lost in that moment.
Yeah, I didn't get this one.

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