“Gubbinal” by Wallace Stevens


by Wallace Stevens

That strange flower, the sun,
Is just what you say.
Have it your way.

The world is ugly,
And the people are sad.

That tuft of jungle feathers,
That animal eye,
Is just what you say.

That savage of fire,
That seed,
Have it your way.

The world is ugly,
And the people are sad.


Wallace Stevens (October 2, 1879 – August 2, 1955) was a major American Modernist poet. He was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, educated at Harvard and then New York Law School, and spent most of his life working as a lawyer for the Hartford insurance company in Connecticut. He was the recipient of many awards, including the National Book Award.

About Okla Elliott

I am currently an assistant professor at Misericordia University in northeast Pennsylvania. I hold a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Illinois, an MFA in creative writing from Ohio State University, and a legal studies certificate from Purdue University. My work has appeared in Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, The Hill, Huffington Post, Indiana Review, The Literary Review, New Letters, Prairie Schooner, A Public Space, and Subtropics, as well as being listed as a "notable essay" in Best American Essays 2015. My books include From the Crooked Timber (short fiction), The Cartographer’s Ink (poetry), The Doors You Mark Are Your Own (a coauthored novel), Blackbirds in September: Selected Shorter Poems of Jürgen Becker (translation), and Bernie Sanders: The Essential Guide (nonfiction).
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3 Responses to “Gubbinal” by Wallace Stevens

  1. keely says:

    please visit us in the dining room.

    it’s a psychiatric ward.

    we’re all sure-by now,
    that you could handle it.

    you might even write some poetry. (about what you saw there.)

    as if,
    you had been somehow,

    when they let us out in the gardens.

    and (you)
    we pretended-

    told us-to write, ‘whatever’
    we wanted to.

    this nurse made copies of it.
    She told us, that we were “part of history”.
    can i get my pass now?

    i just want to go outside.

    i swear, i’ll come back on time.


  2. keely says:

    as if you had been somehow, there….well, i meant, Already been…
    As It Ought to Be (truth be told& i must tell the truth….)is always at sfgeneral.
    technology isn’t always evil…
    it carries more than just one nurse& maybe more than 5 patients through some very dark places even if it is sending along the dark…but in doing so and like this poem is doing so much, (and with so little…) carrying one from one end of the spectrum to the next & in doing so, reminding maybe-someone-that in order to even feel that for one second…one must be not dead, and not indifferent but very…….alive….damn poetry. thank you.

  3. inquirer says:

    @keely, is the second poem you wrote yours or one of Wallace Stevens’s? I love it and can’t find it anywhere. Thanks.

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