I haven’t shared a poem in a while. If you sit very still with this piece, you’ll catch on that it is deceptive in how simple it seems. Each metaphor, image and description falls lightly at first. The craft is subtle. Stevens asks What is Divinity and the answer comes in the form of a question. Isn’t that always the way with these weighty sort of things? I could say a lot more, but it’s probably better if you just read this lovely thing.
What is Divinity
by Wallace Stevens
What is divinity if it can come
Only in silent shadows and in dreams?
Shall she not find in comforts of the sun,
In pungent fruit and bright, green wings, or else
In any balm or beauty of the earth,
Things to be cherished like the thought of heaven?
Divinity must live within herself:
Passions of rain, or moods in falling snow;
Grievings in loneliness, or unsubdued
Elations when the forest blooms; gusty
Emotions on wet roads on autumn nights;
All pleasures and all pains, remembering
The bough of summer and the winter branch,
These are the measures destined for her soul.
Sigh. I’m not sure if I should go on about this poem. It will probably just kill it. With kindness, but kill it nonetheless. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. It arrived in my Inbox courtesy of The Writer’s Almanac. In case you’re a close reader of Stevens’ work, you’ll recognize this as the second section of Sunday Morning. I missed that first time around, but thanks to my poet friend, Robert Funge, for pointing that out.