by Wallace Stevens

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. 

Credit: Lawrence Schwartzwald/Splashnews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Editor’s Note: Not sure which edition of Wallace Stevens‘ collected poems that poet/rock star Patti Smith is reading in this photo — wasn’t able to find the book cover on Amazon, Google, or ebay.  Wallace Stevens (1879-1955) spent most of his life working as an executive for an insurance company in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1955 — the year of his death at age 75 — he won the Pulitzer Prize for his Collected Poems. Read more about this inspiring poet at


UPDATE: In the photo above, Patti Smith is reading The Cambridge Companion to Wallace Stevens (not The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens as we at first thought).