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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 12-04-2007, 01:15 PM Thread Starter
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For any of you poetry gurus.

So I have to do a group presentation on Wallace Stevens this afternoon. My brain is absolutely fried from the last two weeks of papers and projects and would like to know if anyone here can give me a bit more tangible insight to this poem.

"The House Was Quiet and the World Was Calm"
The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night

Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.

The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,

Wanted to lean, wanted much most to be
The scholar to whom the book is true, to whom

The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.

The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.

And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself

Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.

* * *

Here is what I have lined out so far:

First of all, “The House Was Quiet and the World Was Calm” is written in blank verse—there is no rhyming in the poem. The poem is broken up into 8 couplets, and all the lines in this poem linger between 10 and 13 syllables. The speaker of the poem is looking in on a “reader” who is sitting in his house completely immersed in a book. The tone of the poem from start to finish is best described as a state of wonder and almost otherworldly appreciation.

The poem represents the moment when the reader becomes so inextricably caught up in the imaginary world of his book and the reality of his life (specifically the house and the summer night) that they all become fused together in an almost existential way.

The reader becomes a part of the fiction (line 2: The reader became the book) and part of the philosophy. The poem exhibits a sort of “oneness” found in Buddhist philosophy through the melding of the body, mind and soul (line 2-3: The reader became the book; and summer night/Was like the conscious being of the book., 11-12: The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind/The access of perfection to the page., 13-14: And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,/In which there is no other meaning, itself).


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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 12-04-2007, 02:28 PM Thread Starter
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Re: For any of you poetry gurus.

Nevermind. Presentation is in 1/2 hr and I am on my way to class.


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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 12-04-2007, 02:40 PM
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Re: For any of you poetry gurus.

there was a young man from nantucket....

c'mon, somebody had to....lol

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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 12-04-2007, 02:41 PM
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Re: For any of you poetry gurus.

Fleas - by Ogden Nash

Adam had em.

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