Happy Year of the Rabbit!

from David Lynch's "Rabbits" (2002)

Gung Hay Fat Choy!  I missed Wallace Stevens week last fall because of a hectic schedule, but here’s “A Rabbit as King of the Ghosts” to celebrate the occasion: 

The difficulty to think at the end of day,
When the shapeless shadow covers the sun
And nothing is left except light on your fur—

There was the cat slopping its milk all day,
Fat cat, red tongue, green mind, white milk
And August the most peaceful month.

To be, in the grass, in the peacefullest time,
Without that monument of cat,
The cat forgotten on the moon;

And to feel that the light is a rabbit-light
In which everything is meant for you
And nothing need be explained;

Then there is nothing to think of. It comes of itself;
And east rushes west and west rushes down,
No matter. The grass is full

And full of yourself. The trees around are for you,
The whole of the wideness of night is for you,
A self that touches all edges,

You become a self that fills the four corners of night.
The red cat hides away in the fur-light
And there you are humped high, humped up,

You are humped higher and higher, black as stone—
You sit with your head like a carving in space
And the little green cat is a bug in the grass.



2 thoughts on “Happy Year of the Rabbit!

  1. The “Rabbits” clips in Inland Empire are incredibly eerie. I’ve yet to see the standalone series of short films.

    I wonder if the nothing in Stevens’s poem is the same nothing as the nothing in “The Snow Man,” that is, the “Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.” Actually, a study of Stevens’s use of nothing in all of its forms would be interesting, I think.

    • I think so, John — “A Rabbit as King of Ghosts” pairs nicely with “The Snow Man.” Though, in “The Snow Man,” I would argue, there are at least two kinds of nothings and this is apparent in that last line you quote:

      For the listener, who listens in the snow,
      And, nothing himself, beholds
      Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

      I think the article “the” makes a big difference (this is coming from a writer who famously ended a poem with the phrase “The the”) — “the nothing that is” seems to be already something; it, somehow, “comes of itself.”

      But definitely the “head like a carving in space” seems analogous to the “mind of winter” — both utterly transform and imaginatively appropriate the landscape.

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