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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Number 244; Wallace Stevens "A Rabbit As King Of The Ghosts"

A Rabbit As King of The Ghosts
The difficulty to think at the end of day,
When the shapeless shadow covers the sun
And nothing is left except light on your fur—

There was the cat slopping its milk all day,
Fat cat, red tongue, green mind, white milk
And August the most peaceful month.

To be, in the grass, in the peacefullest time,
Without that monument of cat,
The cat forgotten on the moon;

And to feel that the light is a rabbit-light
In which everything is meant for you
And nothing need be explained;

Then there is nothing to think of. It comes of itself;
And east rushes west and west rushes down,
No matter. The grass is full

And full of yourself. The trees around are for you,
The whole of the wideness of night is for you,
A self that touches all edges,

You become a self that fills the four corners of night.
The red cat hides away in the fur-light
And there you are humped high, humped up,

You are humped higher and higher, black as stone—
You sit with your head like a carving in space
And the little green cat is a bug in the grass.

-- Wallace Stevens

Hap Notes: Imagine yourself to be a rabbit– one of those "wild" rabbits that haunt your yard and garden. It is night. You have rabbit's mind. You remember rabbit things. The grass is made for you, the moon shines on only you. You are the only rabbit in the world. That somewhat pesky cat from earlier in the day is gone... everything is about you. You grow large in your own thoughts-- you are everything. Each singular thing surrounding you is rabbit centered, but for just you as a rabbit.

Perhaps you don't need to pretend you are a rabbit to think everything is for, and about, you. And in some ways, it is. Maybe in your meditations you have become one with everything. The first step in that feeling is to feel everything is about you, then gradually, nothing is about you, the next feeling is that there is no you and finally, you are everything and everything is in you and everybody else too. But rabbit isn't really meditating here. Or is he?

Stevens saw the everyday world as one of exotic and riotous beauty. Each time he puts a pen to paper to write a poem he sees the things he is describing as though he were an enthusiastic and mystified traveler who has just come upon the thing for the first time. He sees vivid colors, exotic plants and remarkable vistas. He sees a rabbit and imagines a rabbit-y life, a rabbit-y meditation. He loves the words and the sounds they make, too. Think, too, on why this particular poem takes place at night.

There is much more in this poem but the thing I really want you to be aware of is the description of consciousness in this poem. What is Stevens saying about the "real" world? What is he saying about our senses and our thoughts? Whose world are we living in, our own, or some cultural construct? How does your perception of the world change it? Stevens is showing us another way to look at the world and there are millions more.

So why did you choose the perception you live in and with? Stevens' world is filled with miraculous colors, strange plants and much more everyday magic. What is your world filled with? (Poetry, hopefully).

Here's where we've talked about Stevens before:

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