02 November 2017

Poetry Thursday - Earthy Anecdote by Wallace Stevens

Earthy Anecdote

Every time the bucks went clattering
Over Oklahoma
A firecat bristled in the way.

Wherever they went,
They went clattering,
Until they swerved,
In a swift, circular line,
To the right,
Because of the firecat.

Or until they swerved,
In a swift, circular line,
To the left,
Because of the firecat.

The bucks clattered.
The firecat went leaping,
To the right, to the left,
Bristled in the way.

Later, the firecat closed his bright eyes
And slept.


"You have to hand it to Stevens to start off his first book [1923] with such a poem. "Earthy Anecdote" has no people, no drama, no believable situation, no recognizable form, its main character is wholly imaginary but not explained in any way, almost every word in it is repeated multiple times. It is like a nursery rhyme without the rhyme, or better yet a cartoon, the primitive kind one would see on movie screens in 1923. It makes perfect sense in fact as a cartoon, you can just see that funny firecat bristling and the poor clattering herd of bucks go veering away." Read more of this explication, explanation, disentanglement here.

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