The Paltry Nude Starts on a Spring Voyage

Wallace Stevens


But not on a shell, she starts,
Archaic, for the sea.
But on the first-found weed
She scuds the glitters,
Noiselessly, like one more wave.

She too is discontent
And would have purple stuff upon her arms,
Tired of the salty harbors,
Eager for the brine and bellowing
Of the high interiors of the sea.

The wind speeds her on,
Blowing upon her hands
And watery back.
She touches the clouds, where she goes,
In the circle of her traverse of the sea.

Yet this is meagre play
In the scrurry and water-shine,
As her heels foam—
Not as when the goldener nude
Of a later day

Will go, like the centre of sea-green pomp,
In an intenser calm,
Scullion of fate,
Across the spick torrent, ceaselessly,
Upon her irretrievable way.

This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on May 5, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

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 Plain Sense of Things by Wallace Stevens
After the leaves have fallen, we return
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

Poems about Oceans
A Book Of Music
by Jack Spicer
By the Waters of Babylon [V. Currents]
by Emma Lazarus
Half Mile Down
by Michael Ryan
harbor (the conversion)
by Nick Flynn
If the ocean had a mouth
by Marie-Elizabeth Mali
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Our Valley
by Philip Levine
Out of the Rolling Ocean, the Crowd
by Walt Whitman
Sea Fever
by John Masefield
The Ocean
by Nathaniel Hawthorne