Thursday, November 29, 2007

The intensest rendezvous

The meditations of the past three days recapitulate my encounter with Wallace Stevens forty years ago. Almost all of my thinking and writing since that time have been shaped by those three characteristics of truth: it must be abstract, it must change, it must give pleasure. It is an ecumenical notion of truth, cautious, tentative, devoid of arrogance, roomy enough to make a place for science, art and spirituality. It served me well.

Now, in bloggy retirement, it is another of Stevens' poems that says what I would hope to convey here in these posts, written in the quiet of dawn, spouse still asleep, children grown and gone, coffee at my elbow, in silence and solitude.
Final Soliloquy Of The Interior Paramour
Wallace Stevens

Light the first light of evening, as in a room
In which we rest and, for small reason, think
The world imagined is the ultimate good.

This is, therefore, the intensest rendezvous.
It is in that thought that we collect ourselves,
Out of all the indifferences, into one thing:

Within a single thing, a single shawl
Wrapped tightly round us, since we are poor, a warmth,
A light, a power, the miraculous influence.

Here, now, we forget each other and ourselves.
We feel the obscurity of an order, a whole,
A knowledge, that which arranged the rendezvous.

Within its vital boundary, in the mind.
We say God and the imagination are one...
How high that highest candle lights the dark.

Out of this same light, out of the central mind,
We make a dwelling in the evening air,
In which being there together is enough.
(In yesterday's comments, naturalist mentioned some work of my daughter on mountain uplift and climate change. Black Dome Press has just reissued an updated and spiffed up new edition of the book Maureen and I wrote together, Written in Stone: A Geological History of the Northeastern United States. Needless to say, it is Maureen who gives the book its scientific authority, and it was she who did the revising.)