22 May 2011

Wallace Stevens in Hartford, Connecticut

This plaque is outside the Hartford Fire Insurance Company building, and marks the first of thirteen stones on the Wallace Stevens Walk.


'Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, on October 2., 1879, died on August 2, 1955, in Hartford, Connecticut.

'Joined the Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co. in 1916, named a vice-president in 1934, and worked at the company for the remainder of his life.

'Published several volumes of poetry beginning at age 44 with Harmonium. (1923), and culminating with The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens (1954).

'Awarded the Bollinger Prize (1949), two National Book Awards (1951, 1954) and a Pullizer Prize in Poetry (1955).

'Stevens, who never learned to drive, walked to work, often composing poetry along the way. The Wallace Stevens Walk inivites you to retrace the steps of the poet's imagination from his office to 118 Westerly Terrace, his former home.

'Thirteen Connecticut granite stones mark the course of the walk, each inscribed with a stanza from his poem, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird."'

A map of the 2.4 mile walk follows, which continues down Asylum Avenue for a long way, and then briefly continues into Terry Road for the tenth stone, and then into Westerly Terrace. I wouldn't recommend that anyone try driving this route, so prepare for a walk of almost five miles.
The Hartford, 690 Asylum Avenue.
Among twenty snowy mountains.
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflexions
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?

I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too.
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.

It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And is was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.
Stevens's former house is opposite the stone in the central reservation.

No comments: