Minding the Borderlands

Mark Koester (@markwkoester) on the art of travel and technology

It Took Dominion Every Where

As came up in a recent post on Wallace Stevens, I have to again ask myself: what is the relation between the poetic text as presentation, the poet as aware in his or her presenting of a reader who will read and will maintain the life of the poem in reading, and the reader as aware in reading of this striving to hold world, and the poem as the together-holding of the striving of creative expression-and-interpreting?

Or to put it another way, what is the relationship between the poet and the reader?

Or even more simply, what is the role of imagination between my so-called “inner world” and the so-called “out-there world”?

Another poem by Wallace Stevens has struck me with another tension: the tension of how human objects (namely a jar) delineate space (namely, between wilderness and humanness as the jar is set upon a hill). How is it that a human object can take possession of space, of a space? can, in turn, take “dominion every where”?

In the context of a poem, the questions cut even deeper: how is it that a poem of words and images is able to delineate a space across time-history between striving reader and striving poet?

Anecdote of the Jar I placed a jar in Tennessee,
And round it was, upon a hill.
It made the slovenly wilderness
Surround that hill.

The wilderness rose up to it,
And sprawled around, no longer wild.
The jar was round upon the ground
And tall and of a port in air.

It took dominion every where.
The jar was gray and bare.
It did not give of bird or bush,
Like nothing else in Tennessee.