The memorabilia and scribbles in my Selected Wallace Stevens inform me that I bought this book in The Dublin Bookshop in 1993. £5.50. I haven’t taken it off the shelf in several years, but I cracked the spine and had a sudden memory of reading this sitting in the window of a room at Trinity College. This is a long poem; I’m only posting the first section here, but the entire piece is extraordinary. I think I won’t talk about it any more than that.
by Wallace Stevens
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.
She dreams a little, and she feels the dark
Encroachment of that old catastrophe,
As a calm darkens among water-lights.
The pungent oranges and bright, green wings
Seem things in some procession of the dead,
Winding across wide water, without sound.
The day is like wide water, without sound,
Stilled for the passing of her dreaming feet
Over the seas, to silent Palestine,
Dominion of the blood and sepulchre.