Barque of phosphor
On the palmy beach,
Move outward into heaven,
Into the alabasters
And night blues.
Foam and cloud are one.
Fill your black hull
With white moonlight.
There will never be an end
To this droning of the surf.
Wallace Stevens wrote this poem, but I can’t find an adequate analysis. Here’s my take: The title alludes to this being a bawdy tale about Florida—the penis shaped state, but I’m guessing the poem is more about a sexual act itself.
- Line 1 seems to mean—three masts afire Barque= three-masted ship
- line 2 may refer to the hair on the pubic mound—the mons venus as a “palmy beach”.
- Line 4 may mean the alabaster mounds; which, refers to the breasts.
- Line (6) “foam and cloud” may refer to the wetness of sexual union.
- Line 7 Sultry moon monsters = eyes .
- Line 8 Fill your black hull may allude to insemination.
- Line 9 “white moonlight” may be an odd allusion to semen.
- The last two lines may be a boast of sexual prowess.
I write about a fictional fertility cult in Florida, so the poem interests me and analyzing this was about the only thing I could focus on.
Wikipedia had this piece of analysis:
Mark Strand asserts that the poem, though seemingly about the liminal space between sea and shore, is really about the liminal space between poem and reality. He suggests that this becomes clear once one appreciates the pun on the first and last words of the poem, namely “barque” and “surf”. Some readers are withholding judgment until the pun is explained.
Liminal means the dimension in-between and in this regard—the time between the peak of erotic wildfire and the quenching of the fire.