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Wallace Stevens
Wallace Stevens
Wallace Stevens was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, on October 2, 1879. He...
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FURTHER READING
Poems about Old Age
A Fear of Old Age
by Jack Anderson
An Old-Fashioned Song
by John Hollander
Do not go gentle into that good night
by Dylan Thomas
Eden
by David Woo
If You Get There Before I Do
by Dick Allen
Old Black Men
by Georgia Douglas Johnson
Telling
by Elisabeth Frost
The Drunken Fisherman
by Robert Lowell
The Golden Years
by Billy Collins
The Summer House
by Tony Connor
The Transparent Man
by Anthony Hecht
To Her Body, Against Time
by Robert Kelly
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The High-Toned Old Christian Woman

 
by Wallace Stevens

Poetry is the supreme fiction, madame.
Take the moral law and make a nave of it
And from the nave build haunted heaven.  Thus,
The conscience is converted into palms,
Like windy citherns hankering for hymns.
We agree in principle.  That's clear.  But take
The opposing law and make a peristyle,
And from the peristyle project a masque
Beyond the planets.  Thus, our bawdiness,
Unpurged by epitaph, indulged at last,
Is equally converted into palms,
Squiggling like saxophones.  And palm for palm,
Madame, we are where we began.  Allow,
Therefore, that in the planetary scene
Your disaffected flagellants, well-stuffed,
Smacking their muzzy bellies in parade,
Proud of such novelties of the sublime,
Such tink and tank and tunk-a-tunk-tunk,
May, merely may, madame, whip from themselves
A jovial hullabaloo among the spheres.
This will make widows wince.  But fictive things
Wink as they will.  Wink most when widows wince.






From Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens by Wallace Stevens. Copyright © 1954 by Wallace Stevens. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
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