Nov. 30th, 2016

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Things that confuse me in poetry:

1. Whether the last line of this passage in the last stanza of "Sunday Morning" is just referring to the next to last line ... or what.

We live in an old chaos of the sun,
Or old dependency of day and night,
Or island solitude, unsponsored, free,
Of that wide water, inescapable.

I.e. is he saying "we live in a free, unsponsored island solitude of that inescapable wide water," or does the clause somehow apply to all three possible homes, or might it even refer back to "we" on its own (thus: "We of that inescapable wide water live in either etc."). The meaning of the passage is pretty much the same no matter how you read it, but I'm permanently grammatically confused. I guess I must have heard of "an island of the lake," though "in" and "on" are infinitely more common, but something seems very off about "an island of that water." Chaoses and dependencies of waters sound off-er still. Whether he intended it or not, the effect works for him: the phrase's being semi-disjoined highlights our (possibly false) sense of a categorical disjunct between our world and death/time/whatever else is beyond it, and the way it appears at the end of a rhetorical chunk that's seemingly complete without it underlines how it cannot be escaped. But I still can't tell just how Stevens meant it to be read.


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