Richard Ellmann in the Norton Anthology of Poetry book I have says that Wallace Stevens is the third great English language poet of the 20th century, along with W.B. Yeats and T.S. Eliot. I chanced across his poem “Sunday Morning” after reading the online piece on Helen Vendler, Harvard poetry critic, in the NYT today. She has written a book on Stevens. Here are the first five lines of “Sunday Morning”:
Complacencies of the peignoir, and late
Coffee and oranges in a sunny chair,
And the green freedom of a cockatoo
Upon a rug mingle to dissipate
The holy hush of ancient sacrifice.
The poem has eight sections of 15 lines each. Here are the last seven lines:
Deer walk upon our mountains, and the quail
Whistle about us their spontaneous cries;
Sweet berries ripen in the wilderness;
And, in the isolation of the sky,
At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make
Ambiguous undulations as they sink
Downward to darkness, on extended wings.
There’s a lot going on between these first and last lines. The poem is incredibly profound. I’m trying to understand it. More later….
Oh, and here’s the link to the entire poem: HERE
Note added 12/12/2006: Ok, now I’ve begun to lose interest in the poem because I’ve looked up all the online discussions of it and see that it has its ambiguities, but to me it’s still powerful in terms of the images and feelings it invokes.