Poems Sort of Found in Wallace Stevens’ The Necessary Angel


is a satisfying
of the desire for resemblance

its singularity
is that in satisfying

the desire for resemblance
it touches the sense of reality

enhances    heightens   intensifies it
and when the similarity

is between things of adequate dignity
the resemblance transfigures:

the brilliance of earth
is the brilliance of every paradise


you the poet

your subject
is a sense of the world
inevitable & inexhaustible—

departing from it
you become artificial and laborious
even though the artifice be skilful
and the labour perceptive

you write about twilight
because you shrink from the noonday

you write about the country
because you dislike the city

there are stresses you invite;
there are stresses you avoid

a flat landscape    extending
in all directions to immense distances
placates you        but you shrug shoulders
at mountains
the measure of you
is the measure of your sense of the world

if you touch triangle or cymbal
it is because you feel like it

your image restates its subject
in terms of strident attitude

an image is an intervention
on the part of the image-maker

take the case of a man
for whom reality is enough
as at the end of his life
he returns to it like one
returning from Nowhere to his village;
to everything there tangible
& visible—a clarified reality
but an analogue of happiness
or unhappiness        of innocence
or tragedy       thoughtlessness
or heaviness of mind

transcendent analogue
composed of the particulars of reality
created by his sense of the world


the inverted effect

of soliloquies in hell
and of most celestial poems
and of all music played
on the terraces of the audiences
of the moon    produces
an agreement with reality

the creation of a truth
not from the gaunt world
of the reason but from
a radiant productive atmosphere
which is the morality
of right sensation


elevation & elation

on the part of the poet—
not so much that as
an incandescence of the intelligence
a triumph over the incredible

the more destitute the absolute fact
becomes the more it begins to be precious
the more it includes everything
the imagination includes

if you close your eyes and think
of a place where it would be pleasant
to spend a holiday and let appear
a rock that sparkles    a blue sea

that lashes    and hemlocks in which
the sun can merely fumble—this alone
demonstrates   (since rock    sea   wood
& sun    are familiar facts)

that the world of fact
is the equivalent of the world of
imagination because it looks like it;
the visible is the equivalent

of the invisible    I am myself
a part of what is real     it is
my own speech and the strength of it
this only that I hear or ever shall hear

true imagination colours    increases
brings to a beginning and an end
invents languages    crushes men
& gods in its hands     says to women

more than it is possible to say
rescues all of us from what we call
absolute fact and ensures that
the garden fountain always plays

the song of one who can say
I am imagination in a leaden time
and in a world that does not move
for the weight of its own weariness

when we look at the blue sky
for the very first time    not merely
to see it but to look & experience it
we live in the centre of a physical poetry

a geography intolerable except for
non-geography—we look at
the world of our own thoughts
and of our own feelings

when we look into eyes
for the very first time    not merely
to see but to look into the soul
we live in the centre of  huge bliss

with special illumination
special abundance and severity
of abundance   virtue in the midst
of indulgence    order in disorder

2 thoughts on “Poems Sort of Found in Wallace Stevens’ The Necessary Angel

  1. Bravo!
    maestro of fireflies.

    beneath the Milky Way
    dreaming of lily pads
    falling through a crescent Jupiter


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