A holiday greeting from Bates: A poetry reading by Robert Farnsworth

after Wallace Stevens

Read late a winter’s night. Feel the rooms around,
The rooms within the mind resist the dark.
The fire burns as the novel taught it how.
Summer’s sounding bowl may ripen clouds
In the pages you pay out beside the hearth.
Read late this winter night, and the room around,
The rooms within you will gently fill with proud,
Passing voices. Even now, in the cedar’s heart
Fire burns as the novel taught it how.
So make each hard scene arrive, as if somehow
Foreknown in the cold, complex kilter of the stars.
Read later into the night, until your room surrounds
A world, where flames unfurl awful flags or drowse
In the furnaces of sinners. Where desires pour
Or crystallize as music taught them how.
Rise, old moon, above the pallor of snow,
Summoning pillars of smoke toward
The stars. Read the dark you’ve loomed around
Us all. The fire burns as the novel taught it how.

“Fiction” first appeared in Robert Farnsworth’s book Rumored Islands,
published by Harbor Mountain Press in 2010. Farnsworth is a senior lecturer in English at Bates.