Friday, March 28, 2014

Assignment 18: Response to Wallace Stevens

Life of Pi - Tomer Hanuka


This week I chose to respond to Wallace Stevens’ Disillusionment of Ten o’ Clock, which I particularly enjoyed because of his focus on the mind and dreams.  I loved the first line, “The houses are haunted by white night-gowns”.  With the image of “white night-gowns”, one immediately thinks of ghosts.  Placed before the following lines, the white attire becomes dull and empty, as if the people are not dressing to their full potential.  When I first read the poem, I also envisioned a hospital (perhaps psychiatric) inhabited by patients dressed in white.  With this in mind, the described characters in this poem become even sadder and sicklier, strengthening the feeling of hopelessness.

I was surprised, for half the poem is focused entirely on what the people are wearing (or not wearing, for that matter).  The inability to dream or imagine is linked to a mundane wardrobe, which at first seemed a little materialistic.  But I realized that so much of our personalities are expressed in what we choose to wear.  Many women especially show their voice through their clothing and accessories and enjoy presenting themselves in a certain way.  The white nightgowns also could symbolize the sophistication and conformity to high standards that prevent individuals from creating and exploring.

I liked the contrast between the “ghosts” of the house and the drunken sailor.  The first image is cold, dull, and lifeless.  A sailor, on the other hand, represents anyone with their eyes on the horizon, ready to jump on a boat and travel.  The fact that he’s drunk shows that his thoughts are not entirely in order, which may cause his mind to wander further.  The last line was a great end to the poem, for “catching tigers” is such a powerful and daring activity – great contrast to the ghosts wandering aimlessly through a house.  The “red weather” is also a nice contrast to the white imagery in the beginning of the poem.  The color red is, in my opinion, the strongest color and represents passion, anger, love, and energy.  “Red weather” might lead one to think of a storm, which adds even more life to this dreamland.  I think Stevens is demonstrating that most humans don’t let themselves dream.  “Only, here and there” does a person let his mind wander, not worrying what others will think.

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