Stars at Tallapoosa
It can be read as one of Stevens's poems about the transfiguring power of poetic imagination, which in this case need not accept the night of the dolorous criers, but instead find in it qualities, like a sheaf of brilliant arrows or the nimblest motions, that make it the delight of the secretive hunter.
Buttel finds this poem noteworthy for its connections to Whitman. Like Whitman, Stevens prized the lyical qualities of American place names and animal names, and the title of this poem is one of Buttel's examples. He reads "Stars at Tallapoosa" as partly a refutation of Whitman's "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking" yet at the same time a variation on the mood and theme of that poem, even displaying some of Whitman's tone and manner, as in the lines about wading the sea-lines and mounting the earth-lines. Less brooding than Whitman's poem, "Stars at Tallapoosa" calls for an "active, imaginative transcendence over the blackness: in the mind's eye of his secretive hunter the intangible lines between the stars should become 'brilliant arrows' which will redeem his isolation."
- Buttel, p. 227. See also Librivox and the Poetry web site.
- Buttel references Whitman's "Starting from Paumanok" to document this shared affinity:
The red aborigines,
Leaving natural breaths, sounds of rain and winds,
calls as of birds and animals in the woods,
syllabled to us for names,
Okonee, Koosa, Ottawa, Monongahela, Sauk,
- Buttel, p. 228.
- Cook, p. 68.
- 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.