By Robert Pinsky
Sunday, June 10, 2007

In 1923, Alfred A. Knopf published the first book of poems by Wallace Stevens, Harmonium, a collection of lyrics passionately devoted to the imagination. The poems, so far, seem to have outlasted many of the best-selling books, radio shows and popular songs of that year. It is easy to see why: the poems retain their freshness, characteristically exuberant even about the dreariness of conventionality:


The houses are haunted

By white night-gowns.

None are green,

Or purple with green rings,

Or green with yellow rings,

Or yellow with blue rings.

None of them are strange,

With socks of lace

And beaded ceintures.

People are not going

To dream of baboons and periwinkles.

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