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Wallace Stevens - Peter Quince At The Clavier


Just as my fingers on these keys
Make music, so the self-same sounds
On my spirit make a music, too.
Music is feeling, then, not sound;
And thus it is that what I feel,
Here in this room, desiring you,

Thinking of your blue-shadowed silk,
Is music. It is like the strain
Waked in the elders by Susanna;

Of a green evening, clear and warm,
She bathed in her still garden, while
The red-eyed elders, watching, felt

The basses of their beings throb
In witching chords, and their thin blood
Pulse pizzicati of Hosanna.


In the green water, clear and warm,
Susanna lay.
She searched
The touch of springs,
And found
Concealed imaginings.
She sighed,
For so much melody.

Upon the bank, she stood
In the cool
Of spent emotions.
She felt, among the leaves,
The dew
Of old devotions.

She walked upon the grass,
Still quavering.
The winds were like her maids,
On timid feet,
Fetching her woven scarves,
Yet wavering.

A breath upon her hand
Muted the night.
She turned --
A cymbal crashed,
Amid roaring horns.


Soon, with a noise like tambourines,
Came her attendant Byzantines.

They wondered why Susanna cried
Against the elders by her side;

And as they whispered, the refrain
Was like a willow swept by rain.

Anon, their lamps' uplifted flame
Revealed Susanna and her shame.

And then, the simpering Byzantines
Fled, with a noise like tambourines.


Beauty is momentary in the mind --
The fitful tracing of a portal;
But in the flesh it is immortal.

The body dies; the body's beauty lives.
So evenings die, in their green going,
A wave, interminably flowing.
So gardens die, their meek breath scenting
The cowl of winter, done repenting.
So maidens die, to the auroral
Celebration of a maiden's choral.

Susanna's music touched the bawdy strings
Of those white elders; but, escaping,
Left only Death's ironic scraping.
Now, in its immortality, it plays
On the clear viol of her memory,
And makes a constant sacrament of praise.

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Added: Feb 20 2003 | Viewed: 6138 times | Comments and analysis of Peter Quince At The Clavier by Wallace Stevens Comments (38)

Peter Quince At The Clavier - Comments and Information

Poet: Wallace Stevens
Poem: Peter Quince At The Clavier
Volume: Harmonium
Year: Published/Written in 1923
Poem of the Day: Mar 19 2010

Comment 38 of 38, added on November 8th, 2015 at 5:51 PM.

5M7cgu You can certainly see your enthusiasm within the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren at afraid to mention how they believe. At all times follow your heart.

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Comment 37 of 38, added on October 17th, 2015 at 4:23 AM.

y25iTQ Thanks again for the article post.Much thanks again.

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Comment 36 of 38, added on September 28th, 2015 at 5:10 AM.

a0eE0J You have brought up a very wonderful points , appreciate it for the post.

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