Perhaps, if winter once could penetrate Through all its purples to the final slate, Persisting bleakly in an icy haze; One might in turn become less diffident-- Out of such mildew plucking neater mould And spouting new orations of the cold. One might. One might. But time will not relent. --Wallace Stevens, "The Man Whose Pharynx Was Bad" In "The Man Whose Pharynx Was Bad," Stevens presents a portrait of the chronic ennui of modern life, the impenetrable and inescapable sameness of the every day. The poet longs for an encounter, an event, to be jolted from his habitual existence. The potential agent of deliverance from the meaninglessness of his ordinary life is the weather, specifically, an experience of extreme cold that can disrupt his rote routine and make decisive action possible. The poet imagines with utter clarity what this intrusion of the natural world into the inner world of consciousness might feel like, what it might mean, yet the poem ends despondently; the poet doubts that this agent of change will come, and he is unable to act without it. In the Anthropocene, it's easy to empathize. We face an uncertain future, with predictions of the effects
symploke – University of Nebraska Press
Published: Dec 22, 2013
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