Poet: Wallace Stevens
Poem: A Postcard From The Volcano
Volume: Wallace Stevens: The Palm at the End of the Mind Selected Poems and a Play
Year: Published/Written in 1936
Comment 3 of 3, added on February 17th, 2012 at 12:23 PM.
A lamentation of the fleeting nature of life and human memory. A simple poem, but one possessing a beautiful sadness that I find myself returning to often.
mark from United States
Comment 2 of 3, added on February 19th, 2009 at 12:43 AM.
that girl just coppied and pasted that. she stole those ideads from somebody else
batar from Norway
Comment 1 of 3, added on September 11th, 2005 at 9:36 AM.
"A Postcard from the Volcano" offers its readers a few simple words delivered after the apocalypse; but the language survives from a past that is only apparently destroyed, and the historical continuities of the language that forms the poem itself undermine the poem's evocative sense of an ending. Stevens begins by recognizing a new generation's inevitable sense of its distance from its heritage. Yet he speaks with the voice of the dead.
The dominant feeling of the poem, then, that of the living present of the poet’s immediate thinking, may be summed up in the phrase, "The gaiety of language." The poet shares the despair, the aching desolation, of his bodily self but, as experienced by this man as poet, the despair become "a literate despair" that cries out in all three presents, but mainly in the supratemporal present, as above and "Beyond our gate and the windy sky." From that other ether, the poet experiences the jubilance of knowing the intricate relationships between past and present and future within the time series. As a result of such knowing, the whole of the world of the poem, the dirty mansion, the children, the bones left behind, the way things are seen and felt, and speech itself are all "Smeared with the gold of the opulent sun," with that supratemporal source of light and awareness that is the very moving of the poet’s thought in the present of his poem as living, imaginative experience. The despair of what will become mere bones to be picked up by children, the guilty innocence of the children, these remain the anguish and the ignorance of this desolate world. While the words continue to tremble and echo from the volcano, however, while this supratemporal linguistic awareness continues to smear the dirt and poverty of the scene with the gold of its opulence, the despair felt cries out as "a literate despair" and "The gaiety of language is our seignior." The gold is merely smeared on the dirt; the dirt remains what it is, covered with the gold, but as real as if exposed. Despair, guilt, ignorant wonder, jubilance and gaiety, all survive and contribute vitally to this richly historical and desolately unhistorical affirmation of an imaginative truth.
Jocelyne Do Carmo De Lima Viegas
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