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Poetry Selections -- Jerz: Intro to Literary Study (EL150)

Disillusionment of Ten O'clock
Wallace Stevens


"Wallace Stevens thought that it was possible to look at things that way, that we have a choice about the way things are, and that what they are depends on our own imaginations."

I have nothing to say. This quote pretty much sums up everything. This is exactly how I view life personally. Perhaps this is the reason that I liked this poem the most out of the three we were assigned to read. To me life is what you make it. Without getting onto a soapbox, we have control over our lives. Or in Wallace's words, "we have a choice about the way things are." Our perception of life is based on our consiousness. What it all boils down to is whether or not I'll get upset when I hear someone talking about me behind my back. When I fall and knock my tooth out, do I let my mind be controlled by the negative thoughts of how my face will be "messed up" for the rest of my life? Or do I get up, shake it off, and say this situation is going to make me stronger? Yeah I may have some messed up teeth, but I'm going to be so tough that no one can bring me down. If I can conquer this small situation of an injury imagine what I will be able to conquer down the road. Imagine how my outlook of life will be. Everything is a positive situation in which we constantly build on. Even what we call "negative situations" can be a stepping stone for success, if we choose to see it that way. The most imortant word I'm saying is choice. We have a choice to see things negatively or positively. I really find it comforting to find someone like Stevens who shares these same ideas.

(Sorry, this was my chance to let some of this built-up emotion out, you can skip over that part if you want.)

I found this poem to touch me personally. I can relate to it and I enjoyed it very much.

The houses are haunted
By white night-gowns.

From these opening lines, I feel that Stevens is showing us boring people who are living boring lives without any excitement or any passion. They are sleeping their lives away like ghosts. These people seem to be arrogant and feel that they know all there is to life. They are stuck in the status quo. Their lives (night-gowns) are void of color and are bland.

People are not going
To dream of baboons and periwinkles.

It seems to me that Stevens is saying that in their lives, these people are afraid to step outside the accepted society. They are afraid to not line up to the status quo. To dream adventurous dreams would be too brilliant, too out of the ordinary for them. They must follow their parents and live their lives out of obligation.

Only, here and there, an old sailor,
Drunk and asleep in his boots,
Catches tigers
In red weather.

This is my favorite line of the poem. From it, I feel that this world is filled with so many of the same people. People who will live their lives out and never taste the magic of life. They will never feel the dynamic of adventure and hope. I feel that Stevens is saying that all of the people in the white night gowns think that they have the secret to life. But sometimes, we must let our pride go. We must, for once, step outside of our pious dignity and become like a child. Or in this case a drunken sailor. We must become oblivious to how we are being viewed by others and we must have a passion for adventure. There must be something more out there. For me, the drunken sailor represents the innocence that we are supposed to have. We are suppose to trust in God and sacrifice our worldly desires so that we can have God's desires for us. The innocent sailor, who was working hard and fell asleep in his boots, finds that his dreams are indeed adventurous. I'm not trying to sound religious or anything. What I'm saying is that I don't believe God is a dignified religious figure that "zaps" us when we're bad. I feel that God is a principle in which we are supposed to be happy, joyful, living life to the fullest, adventurous, and taking all that we can out of each day. I believe that if we lose our self-dignity and go after the desires that God has for us, then we too can "catch tigers in red weather."

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1 Comment

You are certainly right... this is a poem about ordinary people, and Stevens makes that very clear by beating us other the with what these people "aren't". He shows us how ordinary they are, how practical they are. And in the end, we see how they are yearning for adventure, to get out there and really experience life.

I liked this one the best out of the three as well.

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This page contains a single entry by Andy published on February 7, 2006 11:56 PM.

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