Why Is a Poetic Image Built, or on the Reification of the Poems “The Red Wheelbarrow”

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Why Is a Poetic Image Built, or on the Reification of the Poems “The Red Wheelbarrow”

Why Is a Poetic Image Built, or on the Reification of the Poems “The Red Wheelbarrow”


In “Anecdote of the Jar” by Stevens, the interesting thing is that the role of the human subject which carries meaning and structures the objective surroundings is taken over by a man-made product, that is an inanimate object. In this case, there is no, as with Williams, “miscellany”7F of different and at first sight disparate objects, but a focusing on one thing that challenges and resolves the poetic-pictorial paradox. The jar is a space frozen in time, a transience condemned to a circular duration which means that the jar is not a simple expendable object, but an aesthetic artefact that contains the “time and the timeless”, “time spent and time redeemed”, that is the human, existential, linear time and the artistic, artificial, circular time (Krieger, 1992: 222).
The poetic self-referential object is a symbol of the human8F which, not going anywhere physically, transcends itself in itself. The transcendence is nevertheless temporally vertical, continuous in one spot, “of a port in air” (8)9F . The horizontal space around it is not exactly taken over, only the space that the poetic object primarily stood in is being eternally self-conquered. In essence, the poetic object does not overcome its own abstractness, it itself is not realized materially, it remains a mental definition about a mental construct. Stevens’ jar can only structurally organize “the slovenly wilderness” (3)10F , but only formally, only on the surface, only seemingly. As the wilderness slowly adapts itself to the circularity of the jar, we can no longer be certain whether it is man or nature that conquers the space. The wilderness seems to prey upon the human product so it can assimilate it in its uncontrollable voracity. The jar remains in its point in space, in its immovable flight, “gray and bare” (10)11F “/l/ike nothing else in Tennessee” (12)12F . At the end, the whole framed scene, that is the poem itself is exactly like a wheel with an eternally still hub – the unmoved mover that makes possible the moving of the expendable rim (Krieger, 1992: 221).

Stevens’ man-made object is a metaphor of the poem as a man-made object and of language as a tool for constructing and deconstructing texts. The poetic language, therefore, is like the god Janus – twofaced, i.e. two-sided or two-way (Krieger, 1992: 187) because it creates the space and the time of the here and now where we can see, become aware of “the paradoxical coexistence of time and space, of the sensible and the intelligible, of mimesis and free-ranging expression.” (1992: 206) If “poetry is a statement aimed at expression itself” (Jakobson quoted accor. to Анчевски, 2007: 163), then it functions in a circle. Hence, if poetry, i.e. art in general imitates anything, it imitates the reality of its own experiential act. Stevens did not choose the jar as an object by accident – its transparency is an allusion to the poem which in its temporally burdened linguistics brings in the outdoors by which, ironically, this eternal artifact is polluted with the transience of time. The poem will be experienced by many transient subjects, it will signify many worldly spaces in many concrete historical moments repeating the experiential act of a specific point of the here and now, in a never-ending cycle of eternal return and eternal beginning (Krieger, 1992: 227).

AuthorAleksandra Jurukoska
2018-10-30T11:27:15+00:00 October 21st, 2017|Categories: Literature, Essays, Blesok no. 116|0 Comments