Explanation (poem)

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"Explanation" is a poem from Wallace Stevens's first book of poetry, Harmonium (1923). It was first published in 1917, so it is in the public domain.[1]


 Ach, Mutter,
 This old, black dress,
 I have been embroidering
 French flowers on it.

 Not by way of romance,
 Here is nothing of the ideal,

 It would have been different,
 If I had imagined myself,
 In an orange gown,
 Drifting through space,
 Like a figure on the church-wall.

This poem may be an explanation of the difference between conventional decoration and artistic imagination, the latter represented, as Buttel proposes, by an allusion to Chagall and the otherworldly charm of his paintings.[2]


  1. ^ Buttel, p. 162. See also Librivox [1] and the Poetry web site."Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-02-03. Retrieved 2007-02-23. 
  2. ^ Buttel, p. 162


  • Buttel, Robert. Wallace Stevens: The Making of Harmonium. 1967: Princeton University Press.