Her terrace was the sand
And the palms and the twilight.
She made of the motions of her wrist
The grandiose gestures
Of her thought.
The rumpling of the plumes
Of this creature of the evening
Came to be sleights of sails
Over the sea.
And thus she roamed
In the roamings of her fan,
Partaking of the sea,
And of the evening,
As they flowed around
And uttered their subsiding sound.
(from, Stevens, Collected Poetry and Prose, p. 6)
Ronald Sukenick writes of Infanta Marina, “the spirit of the sea.” (p.219, WSMTO). She must be one of WS’s personifications. I enjoy the stanza, “she made of the motions of her wrist/the grandiose gestures/of her thoughts.” The wrists of a young woman can be highly expressive, or at least, impressive, and the phrase also conjures visions of the water at the topping of the crests of waves dancing lightly along, airily arching like the wrists of young girls. “And thus she roamed In the roamings of her fan,” like the fans of water spread out upon the beach, as the waves lap onto shore and recede. And finally, “partaking of the sea,/and of the evening,’ as they flowed around/and uttered their subsiding sound.” It is this ‘subsiding sound’ that I am particularly interested in. After a gala evening, such as ‘she’ is having, there is always at last the approach of sleep, the subsiding sound. There is always the ending, and when it comes naturally, it seems to be of the nature of a subsiding sound. Also, in Vedanta, it is promised that the spiritual seeker will experience a subsiding of the waves of the mind, of those waves of fear and of desire, of expectation, and of projection. The ‘subsiding sound’ is what interests me. It’s a beautiful poem.
Infanta Marina - couldn't this be translated as 'the Sea in Youth' or 'the Youthful Sea'? Or maybe 'the Sea Baby'? Speaking of youth, I'm having fun reading about WS in youth, in his daughter's retrospective book, 'Souvenirs and Prophecies' by Holly Stevens. Here's a reference to the young freshman at Harvard, known as 'Pat' to his family, as recollected in a letter from a third year student who lived in the same boarding house at 54 Garden Street, Cambridge, written in 1897 or '98: "'I recall especially his bursting out of his room to recite a new combination of words or a new metaphor that he had just invented, and to share his delight which was most infectious.'"
Yes, indeed! So he was doing it even then.