“How he rolls the vocables!”

rouse

“A Rouse for Stevens”

(To Be Sung in a Young Poet’s Saloon)

by Theodore Roethke

 

Wallace Stevens what’s he done?

He can play the flitter-flad;

He can see the second sun

Spinning through the lordly cloud.

He’s imagination’s prince:

He can plink the skitter-bum;

How he rolls the vocables,

Brings the secret — right in Here!

Wallace, Wallace, wo ist er?

Never met him, Dutchman dear;

If I ate and drank like him,

I would be a chanticleer.

( TOGETHER )

Speak it from the face out clearly:

Here’s a mensch but can sing dandy.

Er ist niemals ausgepoopen,

Altes Wunderkind.

( AUDIENCE )

Roar ’em, whore ’em, cockalorum,

The Muses, they must all adore him,

Wallace Stevens — are we for him?

Brother, he’s our father!

theodore_roethke

This rollicking  burlesque for young poets in tribute to Stevens just adds to the accumulation of respect Stevens received from other poets.   The jaunty style, the setting, the word-play are a fitting tribute to Stevens.   The Great Man of Hartford inspired many light verses in his honor.  Why?  Because Stevens can be so much fun to read.  Stevens can be a joy to imitate.  “Er ist niemals ausgepoopen,” probably means that “he is never screwed up” to offer  a very mild translation.

Roethke is a poet I cherish more with each passing decade.  He has affinities with Stevens and even if he’s squeamish about the line “Brother, he’s our father” much of his verse seems to be engaging with Stevens–conversing with him or talking back to him.

 

Listening:  “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” by Ralph Vaughan Williams.  It’s somber organ chords and it’s repetitions make it a perfect autumnal piece.   And yet it’s also of a very English pastoral mood.  Like “The Lark Ascending” its aim seems to transcend the melancholy and lift the listening spirit.   I play this in tribute to Neville Marriner.  As my mother aged, the music of Delius and Vaughan Williams moved her more than any others and she reread Thomas Hardy with a fervency that I can identify with.

 

 

 

Author: Gubbinal

Bookish, tea-drinking cat-lady who loves great poetry

1 thought on ““How he rolls the vocables!””

  1. Again a lovely poem and music suggestion!
    Poem: wouldn’t be nice if the author used dutch instead of german.
    He could replace Wo ist er with Waar is hij….. then ‘Dutchman dear’ would be correct.
    Music: I’m listening to Fantasia now….sounds like good music to read E.A. Poe by.
    I tweeted a blogpost about Poe’s Imp of the Perverse in honor of his death today.
    I see Sir Neville Marriner just died recently. When asked for an epitaph for his gravestone, he replied simply:
    “Follow the beat” . Sense of humor til the end…
    Enjoy reading your ‘ musings’ 🙂

    Like

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