the emperor of ice cream

by wallace stevens
published in 1922

Call the roller of big cigars,

The muscular one, and bid him whip

In kitchen cups concupiscent1 curds.2

Let the wenches 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.

The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.
 

Take from the dresser of deal,

Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet

On which she embroidered fantails3 once

And spread it so as to cover her face.

If her horny4 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. 

 

 

Notes

1…concupiscent: Sensual; appealing to the senses
2…curds: Coagulated milk. Curds consist of the solid part; the watery part is whey. 
3…deal . . . fantails: Deal is wood, either pine or fir. There could be a double meaning here.

The second is that the dresser deals out the accoutrements of an impoverished woman, including

a sheet on which she embroidered images of pigeons or even peacocks (fantails). Obviously, the

woman opened the dresser often, for now three pulls (glass knobs to open the drawers) are missing. 
4…horny: having calluses

 

Examples of Alliteration

In kitchen cups concupiscent curds
dresser of deal
her horny
Let the lamp

 

el emperador de los helados

Llama al que enrrolla los gruesos cigarros,

al forzudo, y dile que bata

en cuencos de cocina concupiscentes requesones.

Engalánense las criadas con vestidos

que les son familiares, y que sus novios traigan

ramilletes envueltos en papel de periódico.

Que el ser sea el final del parecer.

El único emperador es el emperador de los helados.

Saca del tocador de ruin tabla de pino

al que faltan las tres perillas de cristal

la sábana en que ella bordó hermosos pajaritos,

y tiéndela de modo que le cubra la cara.

Si sus callosos pies sobresalen. no hay duda

de que está fría y muda.

Deja pues que la lámpara fije su resplandor.

El único emperador es el emperador de los helados.