FANDOM


Blanche appears as a proper name in three Stevens' poems. In "The Man on the Dump," her name appears in the first stanza (The sun is a corbeil of flowers the moon Blanche/Places there....) and functions as a placeholder for the idea of human complicity in the construction of meaning, in this case the making of metaphor as an attempt at addressing reality, the efficacy of which the poem explores and finds wanting. Next, it appears in "Blanche McCarthy," a poem in which the poet (perhaps Blanche herself) explores the nature of identity as found not in surface appearances (the "dead glass" of a common mirror)but by looking to the "terrible mirror of the sky," the invisible space where human imagination unfurls itself in the act of self-understanding; here, the objects that flesh out a physical sky (the "absent moon") are actually aspects of a "dark self" that may be discovered by enacting the imaginative apparatus. Finally, Blanche appears in the poem "Piano Practice at the Academy of the Holy Angels" as one of five characters who in the act of piano playing reveal their attitude toward the "themes of love." Here, Blanche is portrayed as perhaps deformed (her "eyes are not wholly straight"), yet in the act of making music she finds a heart-language that helps her negotiate the "dreaded change of speech," which in the context of the poem is the failure of common language to engage the experience of love. The poet contends that in future years, these characters, whose approach to love and music are interconnected, will be unable to draw upon this alternate language to sufficiently satisfy the "mood of love," which will be "swarming for solace."

Blanche as a character name in Stevens' poems does not, then, necessarily coalesce into one discernible person or persona. The "whiteness" reflected in her name, however, can be envisioned as a context around which ideas of self-creation (from a blank slate, for example) and purity might find traction, so that we may see in Stevens' repeated use of it a tendency toward symbolism.