LOVE: Jason S Polley

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LOVE: A Reading
jointly organised by
Cha and Bleak House Books
Date: Friday 17 September 2021
Time: 7:30 pm
Venue: Bleak House Books
Moderator: Tammy Lai-Ming Ho

Jason S Polley read two poems by Wallace Stevens—both are available in the public domain.

by Wallace Stevens
Lantau’s Upper Cheung Sha Beach (September 2021).
Photograph Ⓒ Jason S Polley


There’s a little square in Paris,
Waiting until we pass.
They sit idly there,
They sip the glass.

There’s a cab-horse at the corner,
There’s rain. The season grieves.
It was silver once,
And green with leaves.

There’s a parrot in a window,
Will see us on parade,
Hear the loud drums roll—
And serenade.

This was the salty taste of glory,
That it was not
Like Agamemnon’s story.
Only, an eyeball in the mud,
And Hopkins,
Flat and pale and gory!

But the bugles, in the night,
Were wings that bore
To where our comfort was;

Arabesques of candle beams,
Through our heavy dreams;

Winds that blew
Where the bending iris grew;

Birds of intermitted bliss,
Singing in the night’s abyss;

Vines with yellow fruit,
That fell
Along the walls
That bordered Hell.

Death’s nobility again
Beautified the simplest men.
Fallen Winkle felt the pride
Of Agamemnon
When he died.

What could London’s
Work and waste
Give him—
To that salty, sacrificial taste?

What could London’s
Sorrow bring—
To that short, triumphant sting?


I. An Odor from a Star

An odor from a star
Comes to my fancy, slight,
Tenderly spiced and gay,
As if a seraph’s hand
Unloosed the fragrant silks
Of some sultana, bright
In her soft sky. And pure
It is, and excellent,
As if a seraph’s blue
Fell, as a shadow falls,
And his warm body shed
Sweet exhalations, void
Of our despised decay.

II. One More Sunset

The green goes from the corn,
The blue from all the lakes,
And the shadows of the mountains mingle in the sky.
Far off, the still bamboo
Grows green; the desert pool
Turns gaudy turquoise for the chanting caravan.
The changing green and blue
Flow round the changing earth;
And all the rest is empty wondering and sleep.

III. Here the Grass Grows

Here the grass grows,
And the wind blows.
And in the stream,
Small fishes gleam,
Blood-red and hue
Of shadowy blue,
And amber sheen,
And water-green,
And yellow flash,
And diamond ash.
And the grass grows,
And the wind blows.

IV. She that Winked Her Sandal Fan

She that winked her sandal fan
Long ago in gray Japan—
She that heard the bell intone
Rendezvous by rolling Rhone—
How wide the spectacle of sleep,
Hands folded, eyes too still to weep!

V. I Am Weary of the Plum

I am weary of the plum and of the cherry,
And that buff moon in evening’s aquarelle,
I have no heart within to make me merry.
I nod above the books of Heaven or Hell.

All things are old. The new-born swallows fare
Through the Spring twilight on dead September’s wing.
The dust of Babylon is in the air,
And settles on my lips the while I sing.

VI. Man from the Waste Evolved

Man from the waste evolved
The Cytherean glade,
Imposed on battering seas
His keel’s dividing blade,
And sailed there, unafraid.

The isle revealed his worth.
It was a place to sing in
And honor noble life,
For white doves to wing in,
And roses to spring in.

VII. Chinese Rocket

There, a rocket in the Wain
Brings primeval night again.
All the startled heavens flare
From the Shepherd to the Bear—

When the old-time dark returns,
Lo, the steadfast lady burns
Her curious lantern to disclose
How calmly the White River flows!

VIII. On an Old Guitar

It was a simple thing
For her to sit and sing,
“Hey nonino!”

This year and that befell,
(Time saw and Time can tell),
With a hey and a ho—

Under the peach-tree, play
Such mockery away,
Hey nonino!


Jason S Polley is an Associate Professor of English at Hong Kong Baptist University. His research interests include Indian English fiction, experimental criticism, literary journalism, critical pedagogy, comics, SF, Stephen King, and Hong Kong Studies. He has articles on John Banville, District 9, Jane Smiley, Watchmen, Wong Kar-wai, House of Leaves, Joel Thomas Hynes, and R. Crumb. His co-written article on A Suitable Boy is forthcoming. He’s co-editor of the volumes Poetry in Pedagogy (2021) and Cultural Conflict in Hong Kong (2018). His monograph is Jane Smiley, Jonathan Franzen, Don DeLillo: Narratives of Everyday Justice (2011). He has two creative nonfiction books: Cemetery Miss You (2011) and Refrain (2010). He contributes regularly to both Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine (聲韻詩刊) and Cha: An Asian Literary Journal.  [Return to Table of Contents.]

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