Wallace Stevens was born on this date in 1879, in Reading, Pa. I am unusually fond of his poetry. Every year I manage to read most of The Collected Poems. How, as a native Philadelphian, can I not like the poet of these lines:
Only the rich remember the past,
The strawberries once in the Apennines,
Philadelphia that the spiders ate.
If you read Stevens's Collected Poems from start to finish, one finds him arriving at rather a serene state, tinged with melancholy, perhaps, but wise, intimating over and over that life cannot be reduced to its constituent ingredients.
The earlier poems delight, but the later ones edify. Here's one of the last:
The Planet on the Table
Ariel was glad he had written his poems.
They were of a remembered time
Or of something seen that he liked.
Other makings of the sun
Were waste and welter
And the ripe shrub writhed.
His self and the sun were one
And his poems, although makings of his self,
Were no less makings of the sun.
It was not important that they survive.
What mattered was that they should bear
Some lineament or character,
Some affluence, if only half-perceived,
In the poverty of their words,
Of the planet of which they were part.