First Girl
When this yokel comes maundering,
Whetting his hacker,
I shall run before him,
Diffusing the civilest odors
Out of geraniums and unsmelled flowers.
It will check him.

Second Girl
I shall run before him,
Arching cloths besprinkled with colors
As small as fish-eggs.
The threads
Will abash him.

Third Girl
Oh, la…le pauvre!
I shall run before him,
With a curious puffing.
He will bend his ear then.
I shall whisper
Heavenly labials in a world of gutturals.
It will undo him.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Wallace Stevens's poem The Plot Against The Giant

3 Comments

  1. Jeremy says:

    There are indeed girls, but “girl” isn’t necessarily non-sexual. Young women can be girls, depending on the perspective.

    If it’s the perspective of a big, mighty giant, which I think is both Stevens and men in general (and more generally still, people), then young women might seem like “girls.” Each girl stops the giant with something progressively more stopping than the last. The first just checks, the second abashes, and the third undoes. What are the first, second, and third? the first is smell, yes, but it’s also nature. The scents come only from the flowers. This checks the giant as it checks Stevens and it checks us. The second is human artistry — craft, but not necessarily poetry. For Stevens I think this can stop the Giant still more than nature alone. Finally, the third girls “undoes” him, seemingly with words. What does she say? Heavenly labials. There’s an obvious labial pun there. She whispers something sexy. So the things that stop the Giant — Stevens, men, and people — are most importantly words and sex. Words can “do.”

  2. Leo says:

    What an odd comment from Tamra! There are three girls in the poem, and no women. The poem compares three senses, scent, sight, and finally sound; the last is the most powerful– it “undoes” the giant– because it is self-reflexive, referring to poetry’s origins in song.

  3. Tamra says:

    Under a womans exterior is a hidden flower with the power to bend the will of even a giant. Her submission is never a mistake.

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