“The Intricate Evasions of as”: History’s Duplicities in Stevens’s “An Ordinary Evening in New Haven”

  • Barbara L. Estrin


In the course of “Auroras of Autumn,” Stevens comes to “feel afraid” of his own appropriations, the violations that resulted in the explosions “flaring on the frame / Of everything he is” (p. 417). In “An Ordinary Evening in New haven,” Stevens acts on those fears. his project is to find “the thing apart” (p. 465) from the “thing as idea” (p. 295) he relished in “So-and-So Reclining on her Couch” Abandoning the frame with its “apparition[s]” (p. 295) of repressed seizures and “mechanism[s]” (p. 295) of poetic determinism, the Stevens of “An Ordinary Evening in New haven” struggles to work out an alternative to the oxymoronic “solid space” of the earlier poem. he finds it by redefining the reality of the “solid”:
  • It is not in the premise that reality

  • Is a solid. It may be a shade that traverses

  • A dust, a force that traverses a shade. (p. 489)

In order to get to the newly interpreted real at the end, Stevens begins with an attempt to break free from “the origin of a mother tongue” (p. 470) he inherits from the patriarchal language of “th[e] form[s]” (p. 470) of desire, with their “inescapable romance” and “inescapable choice / of dreams” (p. 468). The “romance” of the “romance” looms in its infinite deferrals. Satisfaction is always just beyond reach.


Woman Writing Legible Meaning Casual Litter Late President Ordinary Evening 
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Copyright information

© Barbara L. Estrin 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara L. Estrin
    • 1
  1. 1.Stonehill CollegeUSA

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