Hibiscus on the Sleeping Shores
The subject of the poem is boredom of an afternoon and being saved from it by focus on an experience of brilliant color. The poetry of the subject upsets traditional expectations, especially in the first and last lines. Stevens is experimenting with iconoclasm. The informality and familiarity of "I say now, Fernando" puts the reader off balance, and the last line provokes the belle-lettrist who finds that in this poem Stevens "goes over to the Chinese". For such a critic the poem lacks an appropriately "lacquer finish" and is "marred by the intrusion in the last line of the critical adjective 'stupid'".
Wink most when critics wince, one might say, paraphrasing from "A High-Toned Old Christian Woman".
- Buttel, p. 148
- "Pure Poetry and Mr. Wallace Stevens". www.nytimes.com.
- Buttel, H. Wallace Stevens: The Making of Harmonium. 1967: Princeton University Press.