About this poem Stevens wrote,
"Banal Sojourn" is a poem of (exhaustion in August!) [Stevens' parenthesis]. The mildew of any late season, of any experience that has grown monotonous as, for instance, the experience of life.
the poet feels acutely the universal nostalgia that he is now a touch old to be what clearly he never was, a "princox", a roaring boy or saucy fellow....What the poem shows...is Stevens' anxiety that the poetic voice in him may fail, an anxiety rendered more acute by an imaginative maturity so long delayed."
Challenging Bloom's interpretation, Kia Penso writes, "There is no evidence in the letters or elsewhere to suggest that Stevens suffered from the kind of anxiety that Bloom ascribes to him.". (Evidently she does not consider "Monocle de Mon Oncle" to be such evidence.) She calls Bloom to account for reading the line that begins with "Pardie!" and the following lines "as being about Stevens himself feeling fat and old. And green." The implication is that Bloom's reading absurdly transfers a property attributed to summer, greenness, to Stevens. More generally, reading the subject of the poem as Stevens's anxieties about himself, rather than being about summer and a poetic response to it, is egregious. (Compare the exchange between Joan Richardson and Helen Vendler about "Monocle".)
Line 10 has been explicated by Eleanor Cook as referring punningly to earwigs despoiling ears of corn, though the role of Satan remains elusive.
- Buttel, p. 150
- Quoted in Penso, p. 13
- Quoted in Penso, p. 12.
- Quoted in Penso, p. 13.
- Penso, p. 14.
- Penso, p. 13.
- Buttel, Robert. Wallace Stevens: The Making of Harmonium. 1967: Princeton University Press.
- Cook, Eleanor. A Reader's Guide to Wallace Stevens. 2007: Princeton University Press.
- Penso, Kia. Wallace Stevens, Harmonium and the Whole of Harmonium. 1991: Anchor Books.