The great structure has become a minor house.
No turban walks across the lessened floors.
—Wallace Stevens (The Plain Sense of Things)
The going of the glade-boat
Is like water flowing;
Like water flowing
Through the green saw-grass
Under the rainbows;
Under the rainbows
That are like birds,
While the wind still whistles
As kildeer do,
When they rise
At the red turban
Of the boatman.
By his last book of poems, The Rock, turbans disappear, replaced with The Plain Sense of Things, or so it seems. In a live webcast discussion of The Plain Sense of Things, ModPo Professor Al Filreis and a redoubtable panel of TAs and guests popped the question: What was that turban about, and where did it go? After all, though Stevens lived in Hartford, Connecticut, he was, as Filreis put it, “a turban kind of guy.”
(To see and hear the excellent discussion by TAs Dave Poplar and Emily Harnett on “turban,” go to~16:54-20:00; for the “turban kind of guy” discussion, go to ~26:00.)
ModPo is short for Modern and Contemporary American Poetry, an extraordinary online course that will be offered again September 7, 2013. To view an introductory video, to read about the course, and to enroll, which I highly recommend, click here.
Credits: All the photographs are mine. The quotations from Stevens’s poems may be found at the links indicated. The quotation from Al Filreis may be found in the live webcast discussion at ~26:15. More information on the live webcast may be found here. For a “one minute of fame” moment for Prufrock’s, go to 1:08:42 in the live webcast.