The difficulty to think at the end of day,
When the shapeless shadow covers the sun
And nothing is left except light on your fur—

There was the cat slopping its milk all day,
Fat cat, red tongue, green mind, white milk
And August the most peaceful month.

To be, in the grass, in the peacefullest time,
Without that monument of cat,
The cat forgotten on the moon;

And to feel that the light is a rabbit-light
In which everything is meant for you
And nothing need be explained;

Then there is nothing to think of. It comes of it-
And east rushes west and west rushes down,
No matter. The grass is full

And full of yourself. The trees around are for you,
The whole of the wideness of night is for you,
A self that touches all edges,

You become a self that fills the four corners of
The red cat hides away in the fur-light
And there you are humped high, humped up,

You are humped higher and higher, black as
You sit with your head like a carving in space
And the little green cat is a bug in the grass.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Wallace Stevens's poem A Rabbit As King Of The Ghosts


  1. mark larson says:

    Very nice imagery,but either Stevens didn’t own a cat, or didn’t pay much attention to it. The night is prime hunting time. I live on an old farm in the woods with a 16 year old cat that can still take down rabbits, squirrels, and mice and moles by the hundreds, and she often does it at night. look at a cat’s eyes sometime in the evening, their pupils are gigantic- Great for night vision. If Stevens was trying to pass along a pastoral image of safety shrouded in the coming dark, he needs to take a closer look at the cats eyes.

  2. p says:

    to “fill the four corners of night” is the blissful state of feeling in harmony with the world. stevens worked as an insurance agent during the day– in the night, he felt his poetic self come alive. the “rabbit” is of course a weird image for the poetic self– but the poetic self is an eccentric self.

    the shifts in size that the rabbit and the cat go suggest a power struggle between them– the poet is trying to whittle away the presence of the cat, because the cat stands in the way of the ability of the rabbit to feel fully inspired. The cat, in my view, stands for the unhappy domestic life that stevens lived (his wife was somewhat insane, totally against his poetic enterprises, and they were unhappily married).

    By reducing the cat, in the end, to a little bug, the poem ends optimistically. But night doesn’t last forever– it is a cyclical struggle that the poet will have to go through.

  3. Catherine says:

    I have to Recite this poem for a project

    • Chris snow says:

      The rabbit has been snatched up by a bird of prey. The shapeless shadow…The rabbit has obsessed over the “monument of cat” and its constant threat. It is mistaking it’s height above the cat as ascendancy to something greater, when in fact it is prey. “Let be be finale of seem…” It’s a theme of his.

  4. C. Wolford says:

    One should remember that not thinking, experiencing only, can be fatal. The rabbit, by the end, is so full of himself that the lurking cat seems benign, even insignificant.

  5. nishil says:

    hello sir i want sort poem on rabbit thanx

  6. Mike Landay says:

    This poem is perhaps Stevens exercising great inter-species imagination to get inside the experience of a rabbit sitting motionless in the grass in the fading light of a summer’s day. But I suspect Stevens is also uses the rabbit’s imagined sitting experience to explore his own experience of simply experiencing without thinking (cf. The Snow Man and The Latest Freed Man).

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