Wallace Stevens - Reply to Papini lyrics
In all the solemn moments of human history . . . poets rose to sing the hymn of victory or the psalm of supplication. . . Cease, then, from being the astute calligraphers of congealed daydreams, the hunters of cerebral phosphorescences.
LETTER OF CELESTIN VI, POPE,
TO THE POETS
P.C.C. GIOVANNI PAPINI
Poor procurator, why do you ask someone else
To say what Celestin should say for himself?
He has an ever-living subject. The poet
Has only the formulations of midnight.
Is Celestin dislodged? The way through the world
Is more difficult to find than the way beyond it.
You know that the nucleus of a time is not
The poet but the poem, the growth of the mind
Of the world, the heroic effort to live expressed
As victory. The poet does not speak in ruins
Nor stand there making orotund consolations.
He shares the confusions of intelligence.
Giovanni Papini, by your faith, know how
He wishes that all hard poetry were true.
This pastoral of endurance and of d**h
Is of a nature that must be perceived
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And not imagined. The removes must give,
Including the removes toward poetry.
Celestin, the generous, the civilized,
Will understand what it is to understand.
The world is still profound and in its depths
Man sits and studies silence and himself,
Abiding the reverberations in the vaults.
Now, once, he accumulates himself and time
For humane triumphals. But a politics
Of property is not an area
For triumphals. These are hymns appropriate to
The complexities of the world, when apprehended,
The intricacies of appearance, when perceived.
They become our gradual possession. The poet
Increases the aspects of experience,
As in an enchantment, analyzed and fixed
And final. This is the centre. The poet is
The angry day-son clanging at its make:
The satisfaction underneath the sense,
The conception sparkling in still obstinate thought.