pine woods

Bantam in Pine-Woods

"Bantam in Pine-Woods" is a poem from Wallace Stevens's first book of poetry, Harmonium. It was first published in 1922, so it is in the public domain.
   Bantam in Pine-Woods

 Chieftain Iffucan of Azcan in caftan
 Of tan with henna hackles, halt!

 Damned universal cock, as if the sun
 Was blackamoor to bear your blazing tail.

 Fat! Fat! Fat! Fat! I am the personal.
 Your world is you. I am my world.

 You ten-foot poet among inchlings. Fat!
 Begone! An inchling bristles in these pines,

 Bristles, and points their Appalachian tangs,
 And fears not portly Azcan nor his hoos.

This poem can be read as a little declaration of independence for American poetry. The new world's inchling poets are defiant towards the traditional literary canon, confident of their powers in the New World. The poem can be compared to The Paltry Nude Starts on a Spring Voyage" on Helen Vendler's interpretation of it as an expression of confidence in new American art. On this reading Chieftan Iffucan represents the canon, making a claim to universality and a privileged access to inspiration that is challenged by the Appalachian inchlings. The richness of tradition is conceded ("Fat!...."), but it is relativized ("Your world is you.").



  • Buttel, Robert. Wallace Stevens: The Making of Harmonium. 1967: Princeton University Press.

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