The truth itself is calm.

Oh, how I love this aspect of the experience of summer as I have known it, in my youth and now in my older years… I never saw this poem before, and am thankful to Oliver Tearle and his Interesting Literature blog for the collection in which I found it.

The House Was Quiet and The World Was Calm

The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night
Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,
Wanted to lean, wanted much most to be
The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom
The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.
The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.
And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself
Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself

Is the reader leaning late and reading there.

-Wallace Stevens

7 thoughts on “The truth itself is calm.

  1. This is a good poem for July. “The house was quiet because it had to be.”

    I was glad to hear–via your comment–that you enjoyed The Summer Book. I’m very much looking forward to reading it.



  2. Excellent choice ! I especially like the last sentence, but would add that the truth is calm even if the world isn’t calm and there IS another meaning. (Not a criticism of the poem; just an extended thought, un-original — Stevens himself no doubt had it, whether in another poem or in his non-poetic life.)


  3. I’ve never read this poem, and find it a little dense, a little difficult. I constantly was backing up, and starting over. But after about the third reading, I suddenly was back in my grandmother’s house during nap time,with my book, watching the sheer curtains blow in the breeze, and feeling the coolness of the metal bedstead. Wonderful!

    Not only that, it inspired me to write an etheree. The first lines just appeared, and so will the poem, eventually. It will have to be tinkered with a bit before it’s publication worthy, but you and Wallace started it off!


  4. Like Shoreacres, it felt obscure to me, but I think I was trying too hard. And the second time I read it, I also noticed the title of your blog post, which was important. I imagine “the world is calm” just refers to the immediate world of the reader in the poem, but I also thought of this un-calm world like Albert. In short, I keep needing to be reminded of the importance of leisure! 🙂 Thank you.


  5. Thank you all, for your comments. I didn’t think too much about this poem when I discovered it, but just loved it for the atmosphere and the feeling that it conveyed, almost as delicious as the actual experience it describes.


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