The Sun at a Steeper Slant

“To face the weather and be unable to tell
how much of it was light and how much thought”
quoted from.Wallace Stevens in Extracts from Addresses to the Academy of Fine Ideas

The thing about autumn
is when you take away the poetry,
pare it down to its bottom line,

you still have the colored leaves,
the ease of twilight’s peace, the bounty
of a harvest done.

When the air turns chill,
the warm hearth is even more
than crackling fire and cider’s kiln.

Come January,
when the mercury dips,
and bare limbs quiver in the wintry wind

a skyward look
reveals a slanting sun.
As the axis tilts, I feel  language

waxing poetic
as if atoning for the pallid star.
I see Jack Frost’s kiss turn to snow

and it occurs to me:
Autumn is truly lovely
but winter is reality.


“Extracts from Addresses to the Academy of Fine Ideas”
by Wallace Stevens


14 thoughts on “The Sun at a Steeper Slant

      1. Absolutely! You introduced me to Wallace Stevens about a week ago. Thank you so much. I looked him up on Wikipedia and I see he was a contemporary of Eliot and, of course, like him, a Modernist. I have always loved Eliot and I see resemblances, though they are both wildly original. I would love to know if you have some insights into this. 😃

        1. I am not a good source of the facts, but I have a curiosity about great poets and how they relate to each other. I have their biographies and collections of each of their works. They say a little knowledge is more dangerous than none so I really hesitate to give my opinion. However: : )
          I have formed some conclusions. I think Stevens is more influenced/preoccupied by/with Eliot than Eliot is by Stevens. I read both of them and am amazed by the talent of each. Based on my limited knowledge, I associate Eliot with The Wasteland and Stevens with The Idea of Order at Key West. It goes without saying that both poets are more than the sum of one poem. That said, when I am through reading the two poems, I am more optimistic after Idea of Order than after The Waste Land. If I had to compare the two, I’d say Eliot looks back and takes us to it, and Stevens looks forward and takes us to it. That is oversimplified and for sure I would not want to be deprived of the work of either.

  1. Thank you so much for your thoughts. So interesting and, yes, I completely agree that Eliot is wonderful but sad, whereas I felt elevated by the Wallace Stevens poem, and almost trancy, though Eliot can do that to me too. I am going to read more Wallace Stevens. Do you know a marvellous Swinburne poem called Hymn to Proserpine? I know Eliot liked Swinburne a lot. It’s marvellous to be in touch with you.

    1. I am familiar with Hymn to Proserpine…

      “I will die as my fathers died, and sleep as my fathers sleep”

      That is all I can quote, but he certainly was a master of language.

  2. BoardFlak

    One of the beauties of winter is what it does with its stark color palette. A black-and-white photo taken in winter is as pretty as one taken in color in any other season.

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