The house was quiet and the world was calm

by Wallace Stevens


Original Language English

The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night

Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.

The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,

Wanted to lean, wanted much to be
The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom

The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.

The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.

And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself

Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.

-- from The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens, by Wallace Stevens

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/ Photo by Adan Garcia /


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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

Ooh, nice.

Can't you just feel the calm spreading out into the summer night? So quiet you hear the crackling of stillness like an unvoiced roar gathering in the skull.

I picture the poet in the 1950s, on a cool night after an overlong hot day, sitting in a wooden chair outside on his porch, a porchlight above his shoulder drawing moths, a book open in his lap, and all the night seems to be leaning in to read with him. He shifts his weight, the chair creaks, and all falls into silence again.

Calm, quiet, meaning, mind...

One can say the poet is enjoying a sweet, timeless moment reading a book. Or it could be that he has been overtaken by communion with heaven and earth. The book is just an excuse to be there.

This summer night, I hope you too have a sweet, timeless moment when the house is quiet and the world calm

Sending much love!



Recommended Books: Wallace Stevens

The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens





The house was quiet