Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I've been a bit lacking in posts recently, sorry but I'll explain later.

I was pleased to pick up a Selected poems of Wallace Stevens today in a charity shop. Aside from the fact that I've been meaning to get around to reading more of Stevens I just love these old retro Faber editions of poetry collections like this Plath's Ariel which in in my local library and I've often thought of nicking, only kidding, lol!!

The Stevens collection is in top nick and has the bonus of an inscription inside the front cover which reads:

'Allan Anderson
June 1973
Ice-cream is on
page 28'

So guess which was the first poem I read, yep 'The Emperor of Ice-Cream', which is indeed on p28. So here it is to make-up for the lack of my own poetry -

The Emperor of Ice-Cream

Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month's newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Take from the dresser of deal,
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

17 comments:

Dave King said...

I don't think you had anything to make up for, but if ever you feel you do, just rollout some more Wallace Stevens!

Jim Murdoch said...

Harold Pinter did liberate a copy of Samuel Beckett's Murphy from the Bermondsey Public Reserve Library in 1952 on the grounds that no one had borrowed it since 1939 so there is precedence.

Rachel Fox said...

I was reading this very poem just last week. I kept reading mention of him on other blogs and thinking 'will get round to reading him'.

This one makes me think of T.S.Eliot. But bouncier somehow.And yes, that is a technical term.
x

James Owens said...

You know, I've always regretted not stealing (and it was a sore temptation) my college library's copy of Erasmus Darwin's beautiful The Loves of the Plants, in a 1798 edition which, apparently, no one had ever taken out.... One has responsibilities to a higher morality....

"The Emperor of Ice Cream" is one of my favorite poems. I once won a prize from Robert Pinsky at one of his readings (only a copy of his collected poems, but still....) because I was the only person in the audience who could recite it from memory....

Dominic Rivron said...

Snap! I too picked up this book in a charity shop. Just before Christmas, in my case. I could not resist running to check: TEOIC is on p28 in mine, too. :)

My personal favourite -at the moment- is the well-known (well, well talked about) The Man with the Blue Guitar.

Sorlil said...

hi dave, for sure, I'm really enjoying the Selected.

hi jim, 'liberating' Plath from the local library, I'm liking the sound of that!

I was the same, rachel, kept bumping into him on other blogs as well. from what I've read so far I'd definitely recommend him.


hi james, what a great story!
I was thinking of offering to buy it from the library or if I could exchange it for a brand new 'Ariel' but then a big story came up in the Glasgow Herald about an early Plath edition handed into a charity shop that turned out to be worth a pretty penny so I doubt they'll sell it to me now.

hi dominic, how cool is that:)!
Yes I read through The Man with the Blue Guitar last night, the first time I've properly read it and I'm going to have to go back and reread it several times.

Colin Will said...

I love The Emperor of Ice Cream, and The Man With the Blue Guitar, but my favourite WS poem is and always has been Thirteen Ways of Looking At a Blackbird. I used to improvise on clarinet between stanzas, and it was the reason my first collection got its title - Thirteen Ways of Looking At the Highlands.

deemikay said...

My favourite by Stevens has to be either The Snow Man or Anecdote of Men by the Thousand.

And I also love the old Faber covers.

(Oh, and just steal the book... they might start chaining the poetry books to the shelves and that'll make people want to read them. You'd be doing folk a favour really. :) )

deemikay said...

Oh, and it's pg 75 in my copy of Harmonium.

And my favouritist title in the whole world is: "Frogs eat butterflies. Snakes eat frogs. Hogs eat snakes. Men eat Hogs."

:)

Sorlil said...

nice hat, colin! Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird was the only Stevens poem I was familiar with before I picked up this collection, I like the sound of your highland variant.

hi deemikay, The Snowman really stood out for me in my first read of the Selected, I love the ending.
a good utilitarian justification for nicking the book, can I resist...!
I dunno, I'm quite liking 'The Paltry Nude Starts on a Spring Voyage' as a title or 'Le Monocle de Mon Ocle', lol!

deemikay said...

I've just gone down the contents page... there's loads of good titles. Pah! It's not fair...

And go on, you know you want to steal it! But if the guilt is too much... why not buy a cheap modern edition and offer them a swap?

Sorlil said...

yes the guilt would be too much, lol! I did think about doing that but (as I said above) with the big noise made about the early Plath find in a Glasgow charity shop a couple of months back I'm not sure they'd be keen for a swop and I think they'd be questioning my motives!

Roxana said...

finally, a new post! I have missed that :-)
I am always happy when I get the bonus of an inscription like this one, I'm fascinated with such traces.
thanks for posting Stevens, I like him more and more!

Frances said...

Welcome back Sorlil. You were sorlily missed. I love the Emperor of Ice Cream. Its the sort of poem I'd like to be able to write myself. Come to think of it its the sort of poem my creative writing tutor would like me to write as he's sick of the real ones!

Sorlil said...

hi roxana, yes I love inscriptions as well, wee insights into other people's lives.

hi frances, thankyou for the welcome back :) interesting what you say about your tutor!

Rob said...

Stevens is one of my all-time favourites. His poems are unique, complex, playful, and uncompromising. Not sure what my favourite would - Domination of Black? Sunday Morning? Or maybe one of those already mentioned...

Sorlil said...

hi rob, I'm glad to have finally picked up some of his work, long overdue on my part!