Begin, ephebe,* by perceiving the idea
Of this invention, this invented world,
The inconceivable idea of the sun.
You must become an ignorant man again
And see the sun again with an ignorant eye
And see it clearly in the idea of it.
Never suppose an inventing mind as source
Of this idea nor for that mind compose
A voluminous master folded in his fire.
How clean the sun when seen in its idea,
Washed in the remotest cleanliness of a heaven
That has expelled us and our images . . .
The death of one god is the death of all.
Let purple Phoebus** lie in umber harvest,
Let Phoebus slumber and die in autumn umber,
Phoebus is dead, ephebe. But Phoebus was
A name for something that never could be named.
There was a project for the sun and is.
There is a project for the sun. The sun
Must bear no name, gold flourisher, but be
In the difficulty of what it is to be.
– from “Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction” by Wallace Stevens; Stanza 1 of Part One: It Must Be Abstract
* ephebe — Anglicized form of the Greek ephebos, an adolescent male.
** Phoebus — “Shining One” in Greek, a name for the sun god and, metaphorically in Latin poetry, for the sun itself.