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Swatara creek

Swatara Creek

Stevens' "The Countryman" functions around the wordplay between the incantory "Swatara" (a creek in Pennsylvania) and the words "swarthy" and "tar," the interchange between which suggests the presence of darkness and slow motion in the poem. The countryman appears in the poem walking beside the river because he "wants to be," because "being there is being in a place." Stevens seems to be demonstrating the purposeful choosing of a context with which to merge (much like choosing a fiction, in this case 'nature'). His wordplay, then, also suggests a fusing of disparate phenomenon and the erasure of binaries. The countryman can be seen as dissolving the subject/object distinction by choosing the view himself and nature as one, seeing it "as of a character everywhere."