Anecdote of the Jar
I placed a jar in Tennessee,
And round it was, upon a hill.
It made the slovenly wilderness
Surround that hill.
The wilderness rose up to it,
And sprawled around, no longer wild.
The jar was round upon the ground
And tall and of a port in air.
It took dominion everywhere.
The jar was gray and bare.
It did not give of bird or bush,
Like nothing else in Tennessee.
This poem by Wallace Stevens is in one of my deepest wells. I really can’t remember when I didn’t know this poem. I do know that the poem came to me through my father who always referred to it – my father whose ideal poet is Longfellow, yet is a man who knew Stevens’ poem. From that connection, I grew to love this poem – and that pulled me deeper, when I was ready, into Stevens’ great works: “The Idea of Order at Key West,” “The Snow Man,” “Peter Quince at the Clavier,” “Sunday Morning” … I’ll stop there.