… imagination of the finest type involves an energy which results in order “as the motion of a snake’s body goes through all parts at once, and its violation acts at the same instant in coils that go contrary ways.”
… In its nimbleness con brio with seriousness, moreover, “Normal Exquisite” is a piece of that ferocity for which one values Mr. Stevens most:
As the immense dew of Florida
The big-finned palm
And green vine angering for life.
Poetic virtuosities are allied — especially those of diction, imagery, and cadence. In no writer’s work are metaphors less “winter starved.” In “Architecture” Mr. Stevens asks:
How shall we hew the sun, …
How carve the violet moon
To set in nicks?
Pierce, too, with buttresses of coral air
And purple timbers,
and “The Comedian as the Letter C,” as the account of the craftsman’s un”simple jaunt,” is an expanded metaphor which becomes as one contemplates it, hypnotically incandescent like the rose tinged fringe of the night blooming cereus. One applauds those analogies derived from an enthusiasm for the sea:
She scuds the glitters,
Noiselessly, like one more wave.
The salt hung on his spirit like a frost,
The dead brine melted in him like a dew.
In his positiveness, aplomb, and verbal security, he has the mind and the method of China; in such controversial effects as:
Of what was it I was thinking?
So the meaning escapes,
and certainly in dogged craftsmanship. Infinitely conscious in his processes, he says:
Speak even as if I did not hear you speaking
But spoke for you perfectly in my thoughts.
One is not subject in reading him, to the disillusionment experienced in reading novices and charlatans who achieve flashes of beauty and immediately contradict the pleasure afforded by offending in precisely those respects in which they have pleased — showing that they are deficient in conscious artistry.
Imagination implies energy and imagination of the finest type involves an energy which results in order “as the motion of a snake’s body goes through all parts at once, and its violation acts at the same instant in coils that go contrary ways.”