Friday, March 18, 2011

Wallace Stevens: "Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock

I wouldn't say that Wallace Stevens is one of my favorite poets, but, to be honest, I really haven't read very many of his poems. So, it's more, possibly, the case of neglecting him, rather than disliking him. However, he seems a bit cerebral to me. But, I have found several of his poems that I do like. The following, "Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock" is one of them.

Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock

The houses are haunted
By white nightgowns.
None are green,
Or purple with green rings,
Or green with yellow rings,
Or yellow with blue rings.
None of them are strange,
With socks of lace
And beaded ceintures.
People are not going
To dream of baboons and periwinkles.
Only, here and there, an old sailor,
Drunk and asleep in his boots,
Catches tigers
In red weather.

Uniformity here is the villain? Lack of imagination?

I like the opening lines

"The houses are haunted
By white nightgowns."

It's ironic that the houses are haunted by those who probably wouldn't dream of haunts. They are ghosts and ghosts are what remains of the dead. I guess the narrator feels that these people are dead in some way. Only the old sailor who has traveled much has interesting dreams.


  1. Maybe in describing what the nightgowns are not, Stevens is showing us how dull and "dead" these people are?

  2. Cheryl,

    Yes, that would fit in with the "disillusionment" in the title. Perhaps their imaginative faculties are dead--only white shrouds and no baboons or periwinkles in their dreams.