Saturday, February 6, 2016

Planet of Poetry

In the poem The Planet on the Table, Wallace Stevens seems to reflect on a solar system of poetry as if examining it like a painter's still life.

The Planet on the Table

Ariel was glad he had written his poems.
They were of a remembered time
Or of something seen that he liked.

Other makings of the sun
Were waste and welter
And the ripe shrub writhed.

His self and the sun were one
And his poems, although makings of his self,
Were no less makings of the sun.

It was not important that they survive.
What mattered was that they should bear
Some lineament or character,

Some affluence, if only half-perceived,
In the poverty of their words,
Of the planet of which they were part.

The human existential story reveals itself somewhere in the back-and-forth between a world on Earth and a vivid imagination.

It seems it's human nature to imagine participation in the arc of humanity in aggregate in some narrative form however large ("no less makings of the sun") or small ("in the poverty of their words").

Still Life with Tapestry, 1669
Jan van der Heyden

The familiar life we know exists on a solitary home planet within the bounds of its biosphere, on an infinitesimally small life raft called Earth.