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'Wallace Stevens is beyond fathoming, he is so strange; it is as if he had a morbid secret he would rather perish than disclose and just as he tells it out in his sleep, he changes into an uncontradictable judiciary with a gown and a gavel and you are embarrassed to have heard anything.' Was there ever such an instance of the pot calling the kettle black? Moore's poems too seem to harbour a secret behind their complicated surfaces, and in her work as well one feels the brisk, moral conclusions are a bit too abrupt, and not completely transparent as summaries of the prismatic turns that precede them. Despite her intense 'capacity for fact' which won the admiration of Objectivists such as William Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky, Moore's sensibility, and even her idea of what poetry is, brings her closer to the abstract, philosophical Stevens. 'No fact is a bare fact, no individual fact is a universe in itself', wrote Stevens, celebrating Moore's creation of 'an individual reality' out of the diversity of idiom and image that is the record of the world imagined. The task of the poet is to bring 'the thing' into an aesthetic integration where it takes on the character of an artist's world, created or discovered. Moore recognised early that Stevens too was creating such an 'individual reality'. She was one of the first to appreciate Harmonium in her review 'Well Moused, Lion', in which she admires the 'riot of gorgeousness' in his imagination. 'One is excited by the sense of proximity to Java peacocks, golden pheasants, South American macaw feather capes, Chilcat blankets, hair seal needlework, Singalese masks, and Rousseau's paintings of banana leaves and alligators.
Wallace Stevens felt profoundly the need for the arts in a time of faltering faiths. In his 1951 lecture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, he says: “The paramount relation between poetry and painting today, between modern man and modern art is simply this: that in an age in which disbelief is so profoundly prevalent or, if not disbelief, indifference to questions of belief, poetry and painting, and the arts in general, are, in their measure, a compensation for what has been lost” (748). The arts preserve and renew our humanity by bringing feeling to experience and by creating a record of “what we felt / At what we saw” (128). They offer a form of resistance to contemporary upheaval, not an escape, but a way of collecting ourselves and pressing back with expressive orders. Painting in particular - with its direct appeal to the eye and its palpable being in the world, with its visible history of orders formed and reformed - embodied Stevens' sense of this project: to confirm our humanity through imaginative response to reality. Throughout his career Stevens contemplated the relation between poetry and painting; he saw in this relation not only a common artistic aim, but also a paradigm for an ultimate relation: “The world about us would be desolate except for the world within us. There is the same interchange between these two worlds that there is between one art and another, migratory passings to and fro, quickenings, Promethean liberations and discoveries” (747).
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