May 27, 2013

The offices of the imagination and fictive reconciliations

Quote of the day:
"For (Wallace) Stevens, the physical world was variously bare, chaotic, turning, and without meaning; and our cultural traditions so obviously at variance with the physical world that they could no longer offer acceptable accountings of our passage through it. Like the rest of us, the poet, through the offices of the imagination, must construct fictive reconciliations to the physical world so that his or her life might become bearable, even joyous. .. Stevens turned not to received beliefs, like his religious predecessors, but to the resources of the imagination for accommodating himself to the terms of the transient world."  - C. Barry Chabot, in "Fiction, Truth, and the Character of Beliefs", The Georgia Review, Winter 1983 issue.


These lines from a poem by Wallace Stevens come to mind; these lines from Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour:

   We say God and the imagination are one . . .
    How high that highest candle lights the dark.

    Out of this same light, out of the central mind
    We make a dwelling in the evening air,
    In which being there together is enough.

Also, these lines from The Man with the Blue Guitar
    The earth, for us, is flat and bare.
    There are no shadows. Poetry

    Exceeding music must take the place
    Of empty heaven and its hymns,

    Ourselves in poetry must take their place,
    Even in the chattering of your guitar.


And last but not least, whenever there is talk of God and poetry, Wallace Stevens' Sunday Morning comes to, let me end with these lines from that famous and amazing poem.

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 measure destined for her soul.


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