Florence Berkman: On "Recollections of Stevens by Acquaintances"

Every morning, like clockwork, he used to walk down Terry Road about nine o’clock, just about the time I was standing by my kitchen sink. I’d always get a thrill. I the afternoon, he’d walk back, this very slow stride of his. Usually, if it was summer or good weather, I’d be outdoors with some of the neighbors’ children. I’d make them stop and look at him, and I’d say, "I want you to remember this is a great poet."

I used to walk up and down Terry Road with our cocker spaniel; he wouldn’t even look at me, wouldn’t even talk to me. But he always talked to my husband: he used to work outdoors on Saturday and Sunday; Stevens would be going to the park. But one morning it was pouring. I drove out to the corner, and here was Wallace Stevens standing, absolutely sopping. I didn’t know whether or not to stop because he never acknowledged [my] being on this earth. But I did stop, and I said, "Mr. Stevens, would you like a ride?" He said, "Oh, I’d love it." He got in the car, and I thought I’d be very proper. "Mr. Stevens, I don’t believe you know who I am. I’m Florence Berkman." He said, "I know who you are. You live in that little house. I’ve often thought I’d love to see the inside of your house." This was a carriage house. He talked at length on that trip. He was furious at the New Statesman, the English newspaper, which was very anti-American at the time. It would have been ‘46, ‘47, ‘48. I said, "How do you get time to read? You’re a busy man, and you do so much writing." He said, "I get up every morning at six o’clock, and I read for two hours."

From Peter Brazeau, ed. Parts of a World: Wallace Stevens Remembered (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1985), 239.

Details

Criticism Overview
Title Florence Berkman: On "Recollections of Stevens by Acquaintances" Type of Content Biographical
Criticism Author Florence Berkman Criticism Target Wallace Stevens
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 16 Nov 2015
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication Parts of a World: Wallace Stevens Remembered
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