Unreal Nature

April 7, 2017

In Some Rubied Darkness of the Human Imagination

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:42 am

… imagination is part of life, it must have its moments of awkwardness and naïveté, and must seek out forms in which it may move and breathe easily …

This is from ‘Wallace Stevens: The Auroras of Autumn ‘ found in A Poet’s Prose: Selected Writings of Louise Bogan edited by Mary Kinzie (2005):

… The title of his latest volume, The Auroras of Autumn, indicates that his powers of language have not declined; here is one of those endlessly provocative, “inevitable” phrases that seem to have existed forever in some rubied darkness of the human imagination — that imagination with whose authority and importance Stevens has been continually occupied in his later period.

[line break added] This preoccupation was once implicit in what he wrote; his images performed their work by direct impact. Stevens’s later explicit, logical, and rather word-spinning defense of the role of the imagination has weakened or destroyed a good deal of his original “magic.” The whole texture and coloration of his later verse is more austere; his subjects are less eccentric; even his titles have quieted down.

[line break added] What has always been true of him is now more apparent: that no one can describe the simplicities of the natural world with more direct skill. It is a natural world strangely empty of human beings, however; Stevens’s men and women are bloodless symbols. And there is something theatrical in much of his writing; his emotions seem to be transfixed, rather than released and projected, by his extraordinary verbal improvisations.

[line break added] Now that he is so widely imitated, it is important to remember that his method is a special one; that modern poetry has developed transparent, overflowing, and spontaneous qualities that Stevens ignores. It is also useful to remember (as Apollinaire knew) that since the imagination is part of life, it must have its moments of awkwardness and naïveté, and must seek out forms in which it may move and breathe easily, in order that it may escape both strain and artificiality.

My most recent previous post from Bogan’s book is here.

-Julie

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