The Plain Sense of Things

Wallace Stevens

After the leaves have fallen, we return
To a plain sense of things. It is as if
We had come to an end of the imagination,
Inanimate in an inert savoir.
It is difficult even to choose the adjective
For this blank cold, this sadness without cause.
The great structure has become a minor house.
No turban walks across the lessened floors.
The greenhouse never so badly needed paint.
The chimney is fifty years old and slants to one side.
A fantastic effort has failed, a repetition
In a repetitiousness of men and flies.
Yet the absence of the imagination had
Itself to be imagined. The great pond,
The plain sense of it, without reflections, leaves,
Mud, water like dirty glass, expressing silence
Of a sort, silence of a rat come out to see,
The great pond and its waste of the lilies, all this
Had to be imagined as an inevitable knowledge,
Required, as a necessity requires.
Copyright 2011 by Wallace Stevens. Reprinted from Selected Poems with the permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

Poems by This Author

Anecdote of the Jar by Wallace Stevens
I placed a jar in Tennessee,
Bantams in Pine-Woods by Wallace Stevens
Chieftain Iffucan of Azcan in caftan
Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock by Wallace Stevens
The houses are haunted
Earthy Anecdote by Wallace Stevens
Every time the bucks went clattering
Fabliau of Florida by Wallace Stevens
Barque of phosphor
Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour by Wallace Stevens
Light the first ligh of evening, as in a room
Le Monocle de Mon Oncle by Wallace Stevens
Mother of heaven, regina of the clouds
Lunar Paraphrase by Wallace Stevens
The moon is the mother of pathos and pity
Metaphors of a Magnifico by Wallace Stevens
Twenty men crossing a bridge,
Nomad Exquisite by Wallace Stevens
As the immense dew of Florida
Of the Surface of Things by Wallace Stevens
In my room, the world is beyond my understanding
Sunday Morning by Wallace Stevens
Complacencies of the peignoir, and late
Tea at the Palaz of Hoon by Wallace Stevens
Not less because in purple I descended
The Emperor of Ice-Cream by Wallace Stevens
Call the roller of big cigars,
The High-Toned Old Christian Woman by Wallace Stevens
Poetry is the supreme fiction, madame.
The Idea of Order at Key West by Wallace Stevens
She sang beyond the genius of the sea.
The Paltry Nude Starts on a Spring Voyage by Wallace Stevens
But not on a shell, she starts
The Snow Man by Wallace Stevens
One must have a mind of winter
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird by Wallace Stevens
Among twenty snowy mountains,
To the Roaring Wind by Wallace Stevens
What syllable are you seeking

Further Reading

Related Poems
Constancy to an Ideal Object
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
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After Apple-Picking
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by Amy Lowell
by T. E. Hulme
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Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio
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Autumn Evening
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Autumn Grasses
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Autumn Movement
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by Edward Hirsch
Fall Parties
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by Bruce Weigl
Lament of the Middle Man
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Late Autumn Wasp
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by Lloyd Schwartz
by Trumbull Stickney
by William Cullen Bryant
November Night
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by Robert Frost
Ode to the West Wind
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Spring and Fall
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
That time of year thou mayst in me behold (Sonnet 73)
by William Shakespeare
The Magpie's Shadow
by Yvor Winters
The Widening Spell of the Leaves
by Larry Levis
The Wild Swans at Coole
by W. B. Yeats
To Autumn
by John Keats
To Autumn
by William Blake
Under the Harvest Moon
by Carl Sandburg
When Autumn Came
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz