Samiksha Jaiswal

Tattoo (poem)

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"Tattoo" is a poem from Wallace Stevens's first book of poetry, Harmonium. It was originally published in 1916, so it is in the public domain. Librivox has made the poem available in voice recording in its The Complete Public Domain Poems of Wallace Stevens.

Stevens's use of the familiar 'you' accentuates the somewhat invasive effect of the poem as it describes the negotiation between sunlight and eye that occurs in perception. What happens in the eyes is not simply passive irradiation by light emanating from water and snow, but it also figures in an act in which the seer probes and interprets, as when the poet sees the light as like a crawling spider.

Buttel detects Imagistic technique in the poem's Whitman-like naming of physical details. In response to nature, man's natural architecture of flesh and bones has developed so as to catch nature's beauty. We are tattoo'd by it, but equally we tattoo nature with human sensibility.

References

Tattoo (poem) Wikipedia


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