View Full Version : Wallace Stevens and My Poetic Goals

02-15-2005, 12:26 PM

Part 1:

The poet, to some extent, wills himself to be possessed by his language. How much of this language and its use, can he possess, play with and maintain his sanity, his self and his centre? The poet describes his community’s life-style, what it really entails, how to make it better, more adequate to its vision of communitas. He helps that community work toward this by discovering for it that which is good in what it already has. The ground of his poetry is both himself, the history he is helping to make, who and what it has been, and the community he is helping to build. Each poem is, as Stevens put it, "the cry of the occasion" in the name of meaning. It is not so only, or even primarily, certitude and freedom from doubt, the historic goals of American poets, that the poet who is a Baha’i seeks, but a range of other aspirations and goals, like purity, justice, detachment, courage, persistence, indeed, a wide range of virtues with which to build a spiritual life and, with others, a full community life.-Ron Price with thanks to Roy Harvey Pearce, The Continuity of American Poetry, Princeton UP, Princeton, 1961, pp.430-434.

Part 2:

Over a lifetime one needs a discipline
that comes from a sense of oneself,
a sense of centre, something to hold
the pieces together under stress, or
the whole thing will fall apart, for
the centre has not held and a new one
has been spread out in its stead.

It's a source of immense strength
in times of battle, in what is often
a fragile world, where the spirit
gets battle-fatigue, tires of the war,
where the sense of inadequacy is
overwhelming and where a lifetime
of struggle and strife seems, often,
to have all been in vain. So the poet
reaches out to put this despondency
in words: for poetry is, among other
things, what he feels in down times.

He feels his uniqueness, a residue,
hurt and his sense of nothingness.
For poetry does not depend on a mass,
an audience; it depends on telling your
story in all its colour, a white line of joy
and a black circle of sadness which returns
to occupy your hours and darken your life.

Ron Price
23/12/'99 to 26/9/'14.