Infanta Marina

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"Infanta Marina" is a poem in Wallace Stevens' Harmonium about a seaside princess. Helen Vendler (in Words Chosen Out of Desire) presents the poem as a "double scherzo" on her in the possessive sense and on of in its partitive and possessive sense.

Infanta Marina

 Her terrace was the sand
 And the palms and the twilight.

 She made of the motions of her wrist
 The grandiose gestures
 Of her thought.

 The rumpling of the plumes
 Of this creature of the evening
 Came to be sleights of sails
 Over the sea.

 And thus she roamed
 In the roamings of her fan,
 Partaking of the sea,
 And of the evening,
 As they flowed around
 And uttered their subsiding sound.

of the motions
of her wrist
of her thought
of the plumes
of this creature
of this evening
of sails
of her fan
of the sea
of the evening

The litany of ofs shows syntactically what the poem states semantically, Vendler proposes: the interpenetration of mind and nature, the denial of "significant difference" among the objects of the various of-clauses. This semantics may be read as a naturalistic denial of metaphysical dualism between mind and matter, a natural twin to the reading of "Invective Against Swans" as mocking the dualistic soul and its dubious journey to a realm that transcends nature.

The princess of the sea in this poem may be compared to "donna" who is "sequestered over the sea" in "O Florida, Venereal Soil", and to "Fabliau of Florida", which in parallel fashion explores dissolution of boundaries in nature.


  • Vendler. H. Words Chosen Out Of Desire. 1984: University of Tennessee Press.