Wallace Stevens, The Man with the Blue Guitar, 1937
The man bent over his guitar,
A shearsman of sorts. The day was green.
They said, "You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are."
The man replied, "Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar."
And they said then, "But play, you must,
A tune beyond us, yet ourselves,
A tune upon the blue guitar
Of things exactly as they are."
Do not speak to us of the greatness of poetry,
Of the torches wisping in the underground,
Of the structure of vaults upon a point of light.
There are no shadows in our sun,
Day is desire and night is sleep.
There are no shadows anywhere.
The earth, for us, is flat and bare.
There are no shadows. Poetry
Exceeding music must take the place
Of empty heaven and its hymns,
Ourselves in poetry must take their place,
Even in the chattering of your guitar.
A tune beyond us as we are,
Yet nothing changed by the blue guitar;
Ourselves in the tune as if in space,
Yet nothing changed, except the place
Of things as they are and only the place
As you play them, on the blue guitar,
Placed so, beyond the compass of change,
Perceived in a final atmosphere;
For a moment final, in the way
The thinking of art seems final when
The thinking of god is smoky dew.
The tune is space. The blue guitar
Becomes the place of things as they are,
A composing of senses of the guitar.
And the color, the overcast blue
Of the air, in which the blue guitar
Is a form, described but difficult,
And I am merely a shadow hunched
Above the arrowy, still string,
The maker of a thing yet to be made;
The color like a thought that grows
Out of a mood, the tragic robe
Of the actor, half his gesture, half
His speech, the dress of his meaning, silk
Sodden with his melancholy words,
The weather of his stage, himself.
Slowly the ivy on the stones
Becomes the stones. Women become
The cities, children become the fields
And men in waves become the sea.
It is the chord that falsifies.
The sea returns upon the men,
The fields entrap the children, brick
Is a weed and all the flies are caught,
Wingless and withered, but living alive.
The discord merely magnified.
Deeper within the belly's dark
Of time, time grows upon the rock.