Wallace Stevens from Adagia Part One

Section 1

Happiness is an acquisition.
Progress in any aspect is a movement through changes of terminology.
The highest pursuit is the pursuit of happiness on earth.
L’art d’etre heureuse.
Each age is a pigeon-hole
The stream of consciousness is individual; the stream of life is total. Or, the stream of consciousness is individual; the stream of life, total.
To give a sense of the freshness and vividness of life is a valid purpose for poetry. A didactic purpose justifies itself in the mind of the teacher; a philosophical purpose justifies itself in the mind of the philosopher. It is not that one purpose is as justifiable as another but that some purposes are pure others impure. Seek those purposes that are purely the purposes of the pure poet.
The poet makes silk dresses out of worms.
The public of the poet. The public of the organist is the church in which he improvises.
Merit in poets is as boring as merit in people.
Authors are actors, books are theatres.
An attractive view: The aspects of earth of interest to a poet are the casual ones, as light or colour, images.
Definitions are relative. The notion of absolutes is relative.
Life is an affair of people not of places. but for me life is an affair of places and that is the trouble.
Wisdom asks nothing more.
Literature is the better part of life. To this it seems inevitably necessary to add provided life is the better part of literature.
It is life we are trying to get at in poetry.
After one has abandoned a belief in god, poetry is that essence which takes its places as life’s redemption.
Art, broadly, is the form of life or the sound and colour of life. Considered as form (in the abstract) it is often indistinguishable from life itself.
The poet seems to confer his identity on the reader. It is easiest to recognize this when listening to music – I mean this sort of thing: the transference.
Accuracy of observation is equivalent to accuracy of thinking.
A poem is a meteor.
The collecting of poetry from one’s experience as one goes along is not the same thing as merely writing poetry.
A grandiose subject is not an assurance of a grandiose effect, but, most likely, the opposite.
Art involves vastly more than the sense of beauty.
Poetry and material poetica are interchangeable terms.
A new meaning is equivalent to a new word.
Poetry is not personal.
The earth is not a building but a body.
A dead romantic is a falsification.
Poetry is a means of redemption.
(Poet,) feed my lambs.
The real is only the base. But it is the base.
Life cannot be based on a thesis, since, by nature, it is based on instinct. A thesis, however, is usually present and living is the struggle between thesis and instinct.
The poem reveals itself only to the ignorant man.
The relationship between the poetry of experience and the poetry of rhetoric is not the same thing as the relation between the poetry of reality and that of the imagination. Experience, at least in the case of a poet of any scope, is much broader than reality.
To a large extent, the problems of poets are the problems of painters and poets must oftern turn to the literature of painting for a discussion of their own problems.
Weather is a sense of nature. Poetry is a sense.
Abstraction is a part of idealism. It is in that sense that it is ugly.
There are two opposites: the poetry of rhetoric and the poetry of experience.
In poetry at least the imagination must not detach itself from reality.
Not all objects are equal. The vice of imagism was not to recognize this.
The poet must put the same degree of intentness into his poetry, as, for example, the traveller into his adventure, the painter into his painting.
All poetry is experimental poetry.
The bare image and the image as a symbol are the contrast: the image without meaning and the image as meaning. When the image is used to suggest something else, it is secondary. Poetry, as an imaginative thing, consists of more than lies on the surface.
Politics is the struggle for existence.
One has a sensibility range beyond which nothing really exists for one. And in each this is different.
In poetry, you must love the word, the ideas and images and rhythms with all your capacity to love anything at all.
The individual partakes of the whole. Except in extraordinary cases he never adds to it.
It is the belief and not the god that counts.
A journey in space equals a journey in time.
Tings seen are things as seen, Absolute real.
Not all objects are equal.
What we see in the mind is as real to us as what we see by the eye.
Poetry must be irrational.
The purpose of poetry is to make life complete in itself.
Poetry increases the feeling for reality.
One reads poetry with ones nerves.
Sentimentality is a failure of feeling.
The imagination is the romantic.
Poetry is not the same thing as the imagination taken alone. Nothing is itself taken alone. Things are because of interrelations or interactions.
All our ideas come from the natural world: Trees= umbrellas.
Intolerance respecting other people’s religion is toleration itself in comparison with intolerance respecting other people’s art.
The great objective is the truth not only of the poem but of poetry.
Poetry is a specific conception, however expressed. A poem is poetry expressed in words. But in a poem there is a poetry of words. Obviously, a poem may consist of several poetries.
Poetry is the expression of the experience of poetry.
Values other than those merely of the eye and ear.
As the reason destroys, the poet must create.
The exquisite environment of fact. The final poem will be the poem of fact in the language of fact. But it will be the poem of fact not realized before.
We live in the mind.
A poet must have something by nature and he must know more about the world by reason thereof.
The poet feels abundantly the poetry of everything.
To live in the world but outside of existing conceptions of it.
It is the explanations of things that we make to ourselves that disclose our character: The subjects of one’s poems are the symbols of one’s self or one of one’s selves.
Poetry has to be something more than a conception of the mind. It has to be a revelation of nature. Conceptions are artificial. Perceptions are essential.

Wallace Stevens

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