We live in an old chaos of the sun,
Or old dependency of day and night,
Or island solitude, unsponsored, free,
Of that wide water, inescapable.
Deer walk upon our mountains, and the quail
Whistle about us their spontaneous cries;
Sweet berries ripen in the wilderness;
And, in the isolation of the sky,
At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make
Ambiguous undulations as they sink,
Downward to darkness, on extended wings.
Stanza VIII, Sunday Morning – a poem by Wallace Stevens
Sunday Morning is considered the breakthrough poem of this great American Modernist poet. It’s not an easy poem and any obvious answers to its themes are well beyond our reach – what happens when we die (!) – but it’s the bittersweet impact of the individual words I’m drawn to. In this stanza we’re all over the place, flying one second and plummeting the next. It’s a bit like Sunday too – a blissful day off until the thought of ironing shirts for the working week and doing the bloody supermarket shop clouds any hope of relaxation. I wonder if Wallace Stevens ever felt the Sunday blues. By day he was a besuited middle-aged insurance executive with a Churchill physique, by night (or perhaps only on Sundays) a poet of majestic significance. He must have had immense control – to spend the greater part of a life behind a desk while allowing his imagination to run wild only outside working hours. Until he let seriously loose and broke his hand on Hemingway’s jaw that is. In his three-piece suit of course.
So don’t think about the school lunches and piles of laundry and unruly lawns. Instead stretch out your Sunday – stick this playlist of new music on, grab your book and curl up in a favourite corner.