Phases

By Wallace Stevens 1879–1955 Wallace Stevens
I.
There’s a little square in Paris,
Waiting until we pass.
They sit idly there,
They sip the glass.

There’s a cab-horse at the corner,
There's rain. The season grieves.
It was silver once,
And green with leaves.

There’s a parrot in a window,
Will see us on parade,
Hear the loud drums roll—
And serenade.


                           II.
This was the salty taste of glory,
That it was not
Like Agamemnon’s story.
Only, an eyeball in the mud,
And Hopkins,
Flat and pale and gory!


                           III.
But the bugles, in the night,
Were wings that bore
To where our comfort was;

Arabesques of candle beams,
Winding
Through our heavy dreams;

Winds that blew
Where the bending iris grew;

Birds of intermitted bliss,
Singing in the night's abyss;

Vines with yellow fruit,
That fell
Along the walls
That bordered Hell.


                           IV.
Death's nobility again
Beautified the simplest men.
Fallen Winkle felt the pride
Of Agamemnon
When he died.

What could London’s
Work and waste
Give him—
To that salty, sacrificial taste?

What could London’s
Sorrow bring—
To that short, triumphant sting?

Source: Poetry (November 1914).

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This poem originally appeared in the November 1914 issue of Poetry magazine

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November 1914
 Wallace  Stevens

Biography

Wallace Stevens is one of America's most respected poets. He was a master stylist, employing an extraordinary vocabulary and a rigorous precision in crafting his poems. But he was also a philosopher of aesthetics, vigorously exploring the notion of poetry as the supreme fusion of the creative imagination and objective reality. Because of the extreme technical and thematic complexity of his work, Stevens was sometimes considered . . .

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