Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Disillusionment of Wednesday II
Today, we continue our odd project of writing bad criticism of Wallace Stevens's perfectly respectable poem "The Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock." No one knows why.
Here's one of mine! Send yours to me, Michael5000, at Michael5000 \at\ gmail!
The Disillusionment of Wallace Stevens
The Wallace Stevens poem "Disillusionment of Ten o'Clock” is a howl of protest against negation, a condemnation of an aspect of reality that is not. Why, Stevens demands, are we not clad in colorful garments; why do we not, in the “houses” of our worldly existence, display ourselves in a manner that befits our status as individuals, wearing bright tones with contrasting stripes? Instead, we haunt our own passages wearing lifeless white, which is of course the color of that most conformist of animals, the sheep. Whereas, who is dressed in the vivid stripes of individuality? The predatory Tiger, of course, his orange and black stripes bathed gruesomely in the “red weather” of his rampage through the flock. And, if we have here Blake’s tyger “burning bright” against the vapid uniformity of the flock, then who is it that captures the beast, who beseeches of himself – one pictures him holding up the great cat by the scruff of its neck to make eye contact – “did I who made the lamb make thee?” It is God, of course, dismissed by Stevens as a sodden, worn-down sailor, drunk and unconscious. His creation devolved into dull drudgery on one hand and savagery on the other, the creator abandons the middle ground lamented by Stevens and drifts off into an alcoholic stupor – which was, perhaps not coincidentally, often Wallace’s own escape from the contradictions of his business life (sheep-like, or perhaps tyger-like) and his literary career (tyger-like, or perhaps sheep like).