what manner of building shall we build?
let us design a chastel de chastete.
never cease to deploy the structure.
keep the laborers shouldering plinths.
pass the whole of life earing the clink of the
chisels of the stone-cutters cutting the stones.
in this house, what manner of utterance shall there be?
what heavenly dithyramb
what niggling forms of gargoyle patter?
of what shall the speech be,
in that splay of marble
and of obedient pillars?
and how shall those come vested that come there?
in their ugly reminders?
or gaudy as tulips?
as they climb the stairs
to the group of Flor Coddling Hecuba?
as they climb the flights
to the closes
overlooking whole seasons?
let us build the building of light.
push up the towers
to the cock-tops.
these are the pointings of our edifice,
whish, like a gorgeous palm,
shall tuft the commonplace.
these are the window-sill
on which the quiet moonlight lies.
how shall we hew the sun,
split and make blocks,
to build a ruddy palace?
how carve the violet moon
to set in nicks?
let us fix portals, east and west,
abhorring green-blue north and blue-green south.
our chiefest dome a demoiselle of gold.
pierce the interior with pouring shafts,
in diverse chambers.
pierce, too, with buttresses of coral air
and purple timbers,
embossings of the sky.
(please continue reading this poem's final two stanzas in some handy volume)
(from Stevens, Collected Poetry & Prose, pp. 66-67)
* * * * *
This poem seems to set out Wallace Stevens' vision for his poetry: a lifelong activity with the goal of creating an edifice, an opus of work, just as the medieval artisans spent lifetime(s) creating the cathedrals of europe. We see many motifs that we will revisit in his work: the palm, the colors (violet, coral, purple, ruddy, etc), the crystals (stones), the spires and various motifs of ascension.