Tea at the Palaz of Hoon
Not less because in purple I descended
The western day through what you called
The loneliest air, not less was I myself.
What was the ointment sprinkled on my beard?
What were the hymns that buzzed beside my ears?
What was the sea whose tide swept through me there?
Out of my mind the golden ointment rained,
And my ears made the blowing hymns they heard.
I was myself the compass of that sea:
I was the world in which I walked, and what I saw
Or heard or felt came not but from myself;
And there I found myself more truly and more strange.
“One short poem for a man,
One giant leap for mankind.”
is close to how I feel about this poem-
which, in the English language and its tradition and canon,
so greatly expands what a poem is and can be about.
Like stepping onto the moon?
better, perhaps, a nearby, undiscovered country;
a land that can be however strange as we can conceive it;
and the poet/reader, a solipsistic astronaut, moon-walker, sea-shore wanderer.
Solipsism is the theory that the self is the only thing that can be
known and verified, that the self is the only reality. The term is
often associated with Stevens.
Eliot had his wasteland, a broken decayed ruin of imagined past glories,
and Coleridge his Xanadu, and its haunted longings of the repressed self.
But Stevens sought, like the graphic abstractionists,
to put together whatever seemed to belong together,
knowing that that sense of belonging together grew out of the poet’s mind
and therefore makes sense.
The model for Hoon with his anointed beard and his solipsism,
may well be Walt Whitman. For consider these lines from Song of Myself:
Divine I am inside and out;
and make holy whatever I touch or am touched from;
The scent of these armpits is aroma finer than prayer
This head is more than churches or bibles or creeds.
I dote upon myself. There is that lot of me,
and all so luscious,
Each moment and whatever happens thrills me with joy.
— from: Song of Myself (first published: 1855).
(musical accompaniment courtesy of the Redford Gamelan Band)