Sunday, January 16, 2011

Of Mere Being by Wallace Stevens

Stevens' poem had an other-wordly feel to me. This world seemed to exist, as Stevens put it, "beyond the last thought" of human imaginings. I interpreted this as a place past the subconscious in the human mind, a world where reasons are unimportant, all that matters is what actually is. It almost seemed like a part of our deepest imagination which does not conform to the outside existence of the world. Where what we have learned to think as humans never penetrates. Especially considering the bird in the palm, and its song as described in the second stanza: "without human meaning, without human feeling, a foreign song." And, according to Stevens, the reason the bird is singing is insignificant to how we feel, it is the fact that "The bird sings" and "Its feathers shine" that affects our emotions. I took this to mean that, subconsciously, it does not matter to us the reason something happens, but only that it happened. I thought this sounded a lot like what people say when they know they have no control over a situation and are essentially only affected by the fact that they experienced the situation, whether good or bad. The last stanza I saw as more description of the strange world; the palm is mentioned again, on the edge of both the mind and space and, as Stevens put these parallel to each other, it made me think that he saw them both as the same thing; the slow-moving wind in the branches added to the peaceful environment; and, once again, the bird with the golden, "fire-fangled" feathers is mentioned, yet another indication of an unfamiliar world.

1 comment:

  1. When we discussed this in class some students thought this had to do with a Phoenix, which changes the implications of the bird--I think. You have an interesting perspective too. Good.