19 February 2006

Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock

The houses are haunted
By white night-gowns.
None are green,
Or purple with green rings,
Or green with yellow rings,
Or yellow with blue rings.
None of them are strange,
With socks of lace
And beaded ceintures.
People are not going
To dream of baboons and periwinkles.
Only, here and there, an old sailor,
Drunk and asleep in his boots,
Catches tigers
In red weather.

~ Wallace Stevens

As Anthony Whitting writes, "The middle-class American goes to bed at ten o’clock and haunts his own house by wearing a white nightgown."

Somehow, I began reading this as a 10:00 a.m. poem--disappointment with the morning and the inevitable procrastination of dealing with the coming day. It is now past 11 and I'm still in my pajamas--precipitating a classic case of personal subjectivity affecting poetic meaning.

But it's fun to hang on to misreadings as long as the accurate one is kept close at hand. There is a poet's intention, a reader's response, and the no man's land where both meet to create another experience where nothing can really be wrong--a literary limbo where more is possible.

1 comment:

Cameron J. said...

thanks for not following into "the Author is Dead and knows not what he/she does" camp. Keeping biographical readings and "misinterpreative" readings close at end and allowing them to overlap is what makes the art of reading thrilling.