Meaning in “Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour”

Image courtesy of L.C. Nottaasen under licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

In Borroff’s collection of essays, Pearce writes that Stevens “has written, over some thirty years, a whole and continuing poetry whose subject is the life, the form and function, of the imagination” (111). “Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour” is one of these poems dealing with imagination. This poem is about the inner place, deep inside us, that houses our thought, knowledge, and imagination. In his book, Stevens’ Poetry of Thought, Doggett writes:

In this poem the world as it seems to all men is a construct of the human way of seeing reality, and this same imagined world unites men, brings them together as though into a common dwelling…. The central mind if manifested within each one as the flow of conscious experience and of inner discourse on that experience. (94)

Thus, we all exist within this construct of thought, arranged by the imagination. All aspects of our existence stem from this “central mind” (line 16).

This poem is also about God, who Stevens believes is an extension of the imagination: “We say God and the imagination are one… How high that highest candle lights the dark (line 14-15). Here Stevens marvels at the capacity of human imagination to create a being that is larger than us—larger, in fact, than everything. Wells asserts that “God must be personal because only persons create him. He is not of necessity the creator of life but is its eternal sustenance” (79). The point here is that according to Stevens, God is manmade—but Stevens doesn’t mean to reduce Him to a mere conception. He is the ultimate embodiment of immensity, representing the greatest possible capacity of the human mind to create.

 

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