+ Response To Roethke; Re: Stevens

"The Muses, they must all adore him,

Wallace Stevens---are we for him?

Brother, he's our father!"

---Theodore Roethke, "A Rouse For Stevens"

 

I agree:  he is our father.

That is why I find no bother

reading him thirty-nine years;

his words---through my joys and tears.

I was told, "He pays you back,"

and have never found a lack

of poetic compensation,

unlike some of smaller duration.

Pop Stevens' poems are always living,

in perfected art of giving

(once again, the gerunds slide

into these lines to abide).

As for you, Roethke . . . well, Ted,

most of your poems (except for Jane's,

which traces grieving's silent pains)

seem to me a little dead.

Here my homage ought to stop,

having agreed that Stevens is our pop.

 

Starward

 

[jlc]

 

Author's Notes/Comments: 

The quotation about paying back is from the poet Dara Wier, who personally introduced me to the poetry of Wallace Stevens (at my college where Eliot's poetry was considered supreme and Stevens' was virtually ignored) in October (I believe the 12th) of 1978; since then, I have never ceased reading Stevens. 

 

Roethke's elegaic poem to his student, Jane, is one of the most heart-wrenching poems ever written in any language. 

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