Thursday, July 21, 2011

“The Plot Against the Giant”

Thursday is upon us, folks, & it’s time for another Poem of the Week!

I’m following last week’s Marianne Moore offering with a poem by another of the “major US modernists,” & a poet whose work Moore admired—in fact Moore & Stevens were long-time friends & allies in the poebiz wars of the Modernist days.

“The Plot Against the Giant” comes from Stevens’ 1923 collection Harmonium (but since it was first published in 1917, it is in the public domain.)  I have had a long-running discussion with myself about Stevens’ poetry.  There have been times that Stevens has taken a place high on the list of my favorite poets; there have been other times where his aesthete pose & underlying conservatism have bothered me no end.  I also will be so bold as to say that his more explicitly philosophical/theoretical works generally don’t stir me these days.

But at his best, as in many of Harmonium’s lyric poems, it’s difficult not to come under his spell, even as the “Giant” will no doubt come under the spell of the “Three Girls.”  Of course, in this regard it’s worth noting that Stevens’ nickname at Harvard was “Giant.”  Certainly, whatever else “The Plot Against the Giant” may represent, it discusses or perhaps more accurately, creates an atmosphere descriptive of poetic inspiration & creation.

It’s a wonderful poem—hope you enjoy it!

The Plot Against the Giant

First Girl

 When this yokel comes maundering,
 Whetting his hacker,
 I shall run before him,
 Diffusing the civilest odors
 Out of geraniums and unsmelled flowers.
 It will check him.

Second Girl

 I shall run before him,
 Arching cloths besprinkled with colors
 As small as fish-eggs.
 The threads
 Will abash him.

Third Girl

 Oh, la...le pauvre!
 I shall run before him,
 With a curious puffing.
 He will bend his ear then.
 I shall whisper
 Heavenly labials in a world of gutturals.
 It will undo him.

Wallace Stevens


  1. Thank you for these beautiful poems!

  2. I don't know what I like more - Stevens poetry or the way you wrote it up for presentation.

  3. Hi Merisi & Jhon

    Merisi: So glad you enjoyed this!

    Jhon: Thanks! This is one of Stevens' poems that always sticks in my mind.


Thanks for stopping by & sharing your thoughts. Please do note, however, that this blog no longer accepts anonymous comments. All comments are moderated. Thanks for your patience.