Joseph Riddel: On "Of Mere Being"

"What are we to make of this late Stevens? Is he a man satisfied with his edgings and inchings, with the swarming activities of "statement, directly and indirectly getting at"? … Coming upon one of Stevens’ last edgings and inchings, a poem cryptically entitled "Of Mere Being," the critic is hard put to place his man. Does the "mere" of the title mean "simple" or "pure"? and does Stevens at last transcend (or inscend?) the physical to discover a central, the thing itself? [Here is quoted the poem in its entirety.] Beyond thought, beyond reason – here in the intuitive moment one perceives "mere being" but still perceives that one is perceiving. What he knows of mere being is a "palm" (a form, a faith?) beyond the physicality of tree and a bird’s song without meaning. Unreal, yes! – but that is Stevens" word for the reality of poetry, the "one of fictive music." What one knows of mere being is an image on the edge of space. at that point where being becomes nothingness. Is this not to prove the ultimate creativity of self, of the mind which must always conceive a reality beyond form or metaphor, beyond thought, but nevertheless at the end of, not outside, the mind?"


Title Joseph Riddel: On "Of Mere Being" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author Joseph Riddel Criticism Target Wallace Stevens
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 05 Dec 2015
Publication Status Original Criticism Publication No Data
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