From "Adagia"

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From "Adagia" - Wallace Stevens

To give a sense of the freshness or 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.

Literature is the better part of life. To this it seems invariably necessary to add, provided life is the better part of literature.

After one has abandoned a belief in god, poetry is that essence which takes its place as life's redemption.

Art, broadly, is the form of life or the sound or color 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 easier to recognize this when listening to music - I mean this sort of thing: the transference.

Accuracy of observation is the equivalent of accuracy of thinking.

The collecting of poetry from one's experience as one goes along is not the same thing as merely writing poetry.

The relation of art to life is of the first importance especially in a skeptical age since, in the absence of a belief in God, the mind turns to its own creations and examines them, not alone from the aesthetic point of view, but for what they reveal, for what they validate and invalidate, for the support that they give.

A grandiose subject is not an assurance of a grandiose effect but, most likely, of the opposite.

Art involves vastly more than the sense of beauty.

Life is the reflection of literature.

As life grows more terrible, its literature grows more terrible.

The imagination wishes to be indulged.

A new meaning is the equivalent of a new word.

Poetry is not personal.

A dead romantic is a falsification.

The romantic cannot be seen through: it is for the moment willingly not seen through.

Poetry is a means of redemption.

Poetry is a form of melancholia. Or rather, in melancholy, it is one of the "aultres choses soalatieuses."

The real is only the base, but it is the base.

The poem reveals itself only to the ignorant man.

The relation 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 problem of poets are the problems of painters, and poets must often turn to the literature of painting for a discussion of their own problems.

Abstraction is a part of idealism. It is in that sense that it is ugly.

In poetry at least the imagination must not detach itself from reality.

Not all objects are equal. The vice of imagism was that it did not recognize this.

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.

In poetry, you must love the words, the ideas and the images and rhythms with all your capacity to love anything at all.

Über "Adagia"

Geschrieben zwischen 1934 und 1940

Opus Posthumous (includes Owl's Clover and essays "The Irrational Element in Poetry," "The Whole Man: Perspectives," "Horizons," "Preface to Time of Year," "John Crowe Ransom: Tennessean," and "Adagia"), edited by Samuel French Morse, Knopf, 1957, reprinted, Random House, 1982.

Deutsche Ausgabe: Wallace Stevens: Adagia. Aus dem Amerikanischen von Karin Graf und Joachim Sartorius; Salzburg/Wien: Residenz Verlag, 1992; 31 S.

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