The Emperor of Ice-CreamBy Wallace Stevens
Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bidbid Command, order, direct him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent concupiscent Sensual, desirous curds.
Let the wenches wenches Girls dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month's newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.Let be be finale of seem. A possible literal paraphrase of this sentence might read “Let artifice and illusion give way to plain reality.”
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream. The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream. In the context of death, an echo of Hamlet's comment to Claudius: “Your worm is your only emperor for diet. We fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for maggots.” (Hamlet, act 4, scene 3)
Take from the dresser of dealdeal Cheap pine or fir wood,
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantailsfantails Birds with a fan-shaped tail once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.
Wallace Stevens, "The Snowman," "The Emperor of Ice Cream," and "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" from The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens. Copyright 1954 by Wallace Stevens. Reprinted with the permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.
Source: The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens (1982)