Renata Reich English Language and Literature MA, 1st Year

An Aristotelian Analysis of A Rabbit As King of the Ghosts by Wallace Stevens

Wallace Stevens is one of those poets whose poetic artistry baffles the reader to such an extent that it turns any attempt of interpretation into an entire philosophical conversation between the reader and the text on the page, i.d. the poem. This seemingly never-ending process of readinginterpretation- re-reading-interpretation is where the intellectual magic surrounding Stevens’ writing truly lies and this is one of the main arguments for which readers keep turning back to a poem and finding different interpretations, different meanings, or, in Aristotelian terms, we find different actions, different moral dimensions, acquired to different, or simply symbolic, characters. Considering this infinite number of interpretations consequent to each reading of the poem, the diction of the poem changes also, according to which word serves to realize which dimension of the poem. If we were to settle to only one interpretation of “A Rabbit As King of Ghosts”, we might say that the action of the poem derives from the way the main character (the rabbit) perceives the surrounding world, which gradually changes as we reach the end of the poem. This gradual change might be representative for the passage from life to death, from day to night, from a peaceful and blissful life to a different state of existence. The poem begins with that exact moment: the end of the day, the moment in which life ends and a different state of existence begins: “the difficulty to think at the end of the day, /when shapeless shadow covers the sun/and nothing is left except light on your fur.” Light is the only element which connects the two states of existence. On a textual level, Stevens manages to create a beautiful antithesis between light as

“the trees around are for you” “the wideness of the night is for you”. while the rabbit transforms itself into a different entity “like a carving in space”. “the grass is full. so that we can give life to the interpretations which are not yet discovered. which is deprived of light. then it is a red cat. and night. and he becomes one with the infinity of things. The cat has different attributes: once it is fat. In this sense. with nature. he becomes “a self that touches all edges”. new meanings emerge. the cat is little and green and looks small like a bug. At each read.Renata Reich English Language and Literature MA. Stevens uses syntagms such as: “everything is meant for you”. but they never seem to make perfect sense. since it is perceived at the level of mere mortals. The rabbit is the one who had a peaceful life and an even more so peaceful death. yet so full of life. we can see that aesthetic hedonism which is so typical to Stevens’ poems. there are two main characters: the rabbit and the cat. perhaps with God. It transcends to a different state. 1st Year the force which unites life and death. Hopefully. This is only one of the interpretations we might associate with “Rabbit as King of the Ghosts”. The general feeling conveyed by the poem is that of an ongoing bliss. Here. there is always a piece missing from the puzzle which is Wallace Stevens’ magical world. new interpretations come to life. In what regards the characters of the poem. interweaving elements of sensory perception into the highly visual dynamics of the poem. This aesthetic hedonism is transmitted by certain textual elements which represent the Aristotelian diction as devices used to realize the hedonistic dimension of the poem. at our next read we will find the missing piece and loose another one. . where nothing else matters than pure pleasure. so that in the end of the poem. full of yourself”.

Renata Reich English Language and Literature MA. 1st Year .

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful