Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wallace Stevens

 Wallace Stevens, the intellectual deep thinking American poet had early interest in writing poetry, but achieved success and fame only later in middle age. His great poetry was composed after many years as a lawyer and as vice-president of a prestigious insurance company. The Pulitzer Prize for Poetry was awarded him just before he died at age 75. 

    Often, the meaning and philosophy behind his poems are obscure and difficult to decipher. There is confusion and there are varying theories about what he means by,
“supreme fiction”, “death is the mother of beauty” and a “blue guitar”. Certainly, he was anti religion if its main focus stressed a spiritual afterlife.
             What is divinity if it can come
             Only in silent shadows and in dreams?

There is no reality, just imagination he explains. Though his imaginative constructs can run wild, stay with his poems and get carried along on the ride. Stick with him
because there are many poems of elegant simplicity and delight.
        I measure myself
        Against a tall tree
        I find that I am much taller
       For I reach right up to the sun
       With my eye;
       And I reach to the shore of the sea
       With my ear.
       Nevertheless, I dislike
       The way the ants crawl
       In and out of my shadow.     

   The martini is quintessentially American, though gin has its origin in the Middle Ages. According to H. L. Mencken this cocktail is “the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet”. Stevens liked his cocktails and probably after one too many, argued with and alienated Robert Frost. In Key West he reportedly broke his hand
in a fight with Hemingway and got knocked into the street.  They never reconciled.
     To continue reading his works, I recommend a relaxing sip of the highest quality gin martini stirred or shaken on ice to cool any reactive volcanic emotions.

Elliot O. Lipchik

Sunday, July 15, 2012

W.B. Yeats


I stumble as if drunk when I read Yeats. I become uncertain, perhaps confused of my knowledge and beliefs. He buffets me as in a wind storm. Unsteady, I must sit, re-gather my wits. Drink, not necessary, my mind already addled as if I “had one too many”. I name him the great enchanter.  His spirituality and imagination rooted in the agricultural, idyllic, mythical past of Ireland are applicable to all people of all countries.

No other poet plunged so deeply into themes of life and death, love and hate and
all the conundrums of man’s condition. He says all with magnetic imagination and power and often song-like rhythms propelling the reader deeper and deeper into the confusion of life.

He pined for the heroic past age. Life never fulfills its promises and dreams. He abhorred withering old age yet accepted mortality and always insisted on the power of the word and the imagination. Although he often wrote of erotic love and beauty, and his belief in mystical symbolism, he could be funny, physical and anti clerical as in his “Crazy Jane” poems. He was touched by and touches us all with “faerie” dust.

     “Wine comes in at the mouth

     And love comes in at the eye

     That’s all we shall know for truth

     Before we grow old and die”

-Elliot O. Lipchik