Monthly Archives: May 2009

May 4, 2009 Loneliness in Jersey City

Folks,

and then on the drive back to New Brunswick rail station from my friend’s house, Mike was telling me about his job and how he’d be spending some significant time in Hartford in the coming months. This naturally got me thinking about Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), since Wallace Stevens worked in Hartford nearly all his adult life and was, like Mike, an insurance man. Mike came to it via an English major and information systems management, Stevens via a Harvard degree and New York Law School. And Mike and I used to study modern poetry together as undergrads, so a piece from one of my very favorite writers (yes, dating right back to Mrs. Ney’s sophomore English class) seemed apropos for today.

Hartford’s in CT, but Jersey City’s in NJ. Here Wallace Stevens tries to take the measure of something. Look at the numbers. Look, too, at the rather strict rhymes he maintains, somewhat a rarity in his work. It’s measured, yet senseless. And at the same time, a little judgmental… Hm, no wonder I like this poem. Folks, where’s the loneliness? Have a good week. -ed.




LONELINESS IN JERSEY CITY


The deer and the dachshund are one.
Well, the gods grow out of the weather.
The people grow out of the weather;
The gods grow out of the people.
Encore, encore, encore les dieux…

The distance between the dark steeple
And cobble ten thousand and three
Is more than a seven-foot inchworm
Could measure by moonlight in June.

Kiss, cats: for the deer and the dachshund
Are one. My window is twenty-nine three
And plenty of window for me.
The steeples are empty and so are the people,
There’s nothing whatever to see
Except Polacks that pass in their motors
And play concertinas all night.
They think that things are all right,
Since the deer and the dachshund are one.

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