Verse > Anthologies > Alfred Kreymborg, ed. > Others for 1919
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Alfred Kreymborg, ed.  Others for 1919.  1920.
 
Pecksniffiana
By Wallace Stevens
 
FABLIAU OF FLORIDA

BARQUE of phosphor
On the palmy beach,
 
Move outward into heaven,
Into the alabasters
And night blues.        5
 
Foam and cloud are one.
Sultry moon-monsters
Are dissolving.
 
Fill your black hull
With white moonlight.        10
 
There will never be an end
To this droning of the surf.
 
HOMUNCULUS ET LA BELLE ETOILE

In the sea, Biscayne, there prinks
The young emerald, evening star—
Good light for drunkards, poets, widows,        15
And ladies soon to be married.
 
By this light the salty fishes
Arch in the sea like tree-branches,
Going in many directions
Up and down.        20
 
This light conducts
The thoughts of drunkards, the feelings
Of widows and trembling ladies,
The movements of fishes.
 
How pleasant an existence it is        25
That this emerald charms philosophers,
Until they become thoughtlessly willing
To bathe their hearts in later moonlight,
 
Knowing that they can bring back thought
In the night that is still to be silent,        30
Reflecting this thing and that,
Before they sleep.
 
It is better that, as scholars,
They should think hard in the dark cuffs
Of voluminous cloaks,        35
And shave their heads and bodies.
 
It might well be that their mistress
Is no gaunt fugitive phantom.
She might, after all, be a wanton,
Abundantly beautiful, eager.        40
 
Fecund,
From whose being by starlight, on sea-coast,
The innermost good of their seeking
Might come in the simplest of speech.
 
It is a good light, then, for those        45
That know the ultimate Plato,
Tranquillizing with this jewel
The torments of confusion.
 
EXPOSITION OF THE CONTENTS OF A CAB

Victoria Clementina, negress,
Took seven white dogs        50
To ride in a cab.
 
Bells of the dog chinked.
Harness of the horses shuffled
Like brazen shells.
 
Oh-hé-hé! Fragrant puppets        55
By the green lake-pallors,
She too is flesh,
 
And a breech-cloth might wear,
Netted of topaz and ruby
And savage blooms;        60
 
Thridding the squawkiest jungle
In a golden sedan,
White dogs at bay.
 
What breech-cloth might you wear—
Except linen, embroidered        65
By elderly women?
 
PLOUGHING ON SUNDAY

The white cock’s tail
Tosses in the wind.
The turkey-cock’s tail
Glitters in the sun.        70
 
Water in the fields.
The wind pours down.
The feathers flare
And bluster in the wind.
 
Remus, blow your horn!        75
I’m ploughing on Sunday,
Ploughing North America.
Blow your horn!
 
Tum-ti-tum,
Ti-tum-tum-tum!        80
The turkey-cock’s tail
Spreads to the sun.
 
The white cock’s tail
Streams to the moon.
Water in the fields.        85
The wind pours down.
 
BANAL SOJOURN

Two wooden tubs of blue hydrangeas stand at the foot of the stone steps.
The sky is a blue gum streaked with rose. The trees are black.
The grackles crack their throats of bone in the smooth air.
Moisture and heat have swollen the garden into a slum of bloom.        90
Pardie! Summer is like a fat beast, sleepy in mildew,
Our old bane, green and bloated, serene, who cries,
“That bliss of stars, that princox of evening heaven!” reminding of seasons,
When radiance came running down, slim through the bareness.
And so it is one damns that green shade at the bottom of the land.        95
For who can care at the wigs despoiling the Satan ear?
And who does not seek the sky unfuzzed, soaring to the princox?
One has a malady here, a malady. One feels a malady.
 
OF THE SURFACE OF THINGS

I
In my room, the world is beyond my understanding;
But when I walk I see that it consists of three or four hills and a cloud.        100
 
II
From my balcony, I survey the yellow air,
Reading where I have written,
“The spring is like a belle undressing.”
 
III
The gold tree is blue.
The singer has pulled his cloak over his head.        105
The moon is in the folds of the cloak.
 
THE CURTAINS IN THE HOUSE OF THE METAPHYSICIAN

It comes about that the drifting of these curtains
Is full of long motions; as the ponderous
Deflations of distance or as clouds
Inseparable from their afternoons;        110
Or the changing of light, the dropping
Of the silence, wide sleep and solitude
Of night, in which all motion
Is beyond us, as the firmament,
Up-rising and down-falling, bares        115
The last largeness, bold to see.
 
THE PALTRY NUDE STARTS ON A SPRING VOYAGE

But not on a shell, she starts,
Archaic, for the sea.
But on the first-found weed
She scuds the glitters,        120
Noiselessly, like one more wave.
 
She too is discontent
And would have purple stuff upon her arms,
Tired of the salty harbors,
Eager for the brine and bellowing        125
Of the high interiors of the sea.
 
The wind speeds her,
Blowing upon her hands
And watery back.
She touches the clouds, where she goes,        130
In the circle of her traverse of the sea.
 
Yet this is meagre play
In the scurry and water-shine,
As her heels foam—
Not as when the goldener nude        135
Of a later day
Will go, like the centre of sea-green pomp,
In an intenser calm,
Scullion of fate,
Across the spick torrent, ceaselessly,        140
Upon her irretrievable way.
 
 
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