Harmonium is yummy

19 March 2005 at 11:50 Leave a comment

I love Wallace Stevens.

The Ancedote of the Jar is a poem I have tried, fruitlessly, to memorize for years. I got a reprint of his first book of poetry, Harmonium, yesterday and have been imbibing it ever since.


So I was looking online for more information about Mr. Stevens – Harmonium was published when he was 44! And he was so displeased by the reviews of his poetry that he hardly wrote any for the next 10 years…fascinating. The bastards.

So when I noticed a link entitled On “Anecdote of the Jar” and had to follow it.


The poem is, of course, an ironic critique of the Romantic yearning for the creative interfusion of consciousness and nature as the basis of art. 

-Pat Righelato

The whole sentence is bad enough, but “of course”?! Bizarre. And then it gets worse. I won’t choke you on the fumes.

And his biography was strange too. What’s up with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign?

First of all, I don’t care where his daughter was conceived. And then the kicker:

“In 1939, Stevens was sixty – an age when most poets are ready to look back on what career they might have made for themselves.”


It seems to me at sixty you’d just be getting going.

Think about Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, May Sarton.

But, of course, I’m listing poets who worked outside of academia. People whose writing was their life, not their career. Those within academia might, yes, have already made their mark (or failed to) and settled into silence.


Entry filed under: beauty, reading.

a popular road crossing Manchester Piccadilly

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What I’ve been reading:

  • James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson, L.L.D. (London, 14 King William Street, Strand: William P. Nimmo, 1876). 5 years ago
  • Marsilio Ficino, Letters of Marsilio Ficino, v. 3, trans. Language Dept. School of Economic Science, London (New York: Gingko Press, 1985). 5 years ago
  • Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millennium (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988). 6 years ago
  • Stephanie Kallos, Broken for You (New York: Grove Press, 2004). 6 years ago
  • Marsilio Ficino, Letters of Marsilio Ficino, v. 2, trans. Language Dept. School of Economic Science, London (New York: Gingko Press, 1985) 6 years ago

T. Anderson Painter

I am a misanthrope. No one ever believes me, but this seems to prove my point.



2003-2013 T. Anderson Painter
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