A seal and matches a swan and ivy and a suit.


I thought I’d try and take this blog in a different direction. It was linked too closely to me, personally, and I wanted it to be something more wide-ranging and general.

A Seal and Matches is a quote from a Gertrude Stein poem in her seminal work, Tender Buttons. This book has always stood out to me. Her seemingly nonsensical poems are more pertinent than ever in a world where everything is full of nonsense. Trying to make sense of her poetry is attempting what I’m trying to do with this blog, which is to make sense of things, to ruminate, to espouse, to chat shit.

I like the quote even more because I got a C in the essay I did on Stein. I spent so long trying to figure out what she was trying to say that I forgot to explain that the whole point of the poetry is not to figure it out, but to enjoy the artfulness of the words, the way it sounds, the way it feels.

Life’s a bit like that.

All of it.

Every little piece.

Image: Pablo Picasso, Portrait of Gertrude Stein, 1906



  1. I related to this – a bit. I don’t know Stein’s work but I have worried for years (like a dog with an old bone) over TS Eliot’s “garlic and sapphires in the mud” from Four Quartets. I’ve worried at his work ever since I discovered it, especially the Quartets. There are parts I love without understanding – maybe I should try just to understand the “artfulness” of the words.

    Liked by 2 people

    • T.S Eliot is known for his over-complication of things. A lot of The Wasteland is absolutely mental, with so many references there’s no way you could ever figure them out.

      He puzzled academics by annotating different versions of the poem with different versions of annotations.

      It was all done on purpose.

      Genius man, he very much wanted us to embrace the art of the words, rather than what they meant. He was fighting, like Stein, against academia in poetry, and the unnecessary focus on the “classics” and the “past.”

      Thanks for commenting, pal.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well said, this is why each poem has a different meaning for each reader. Many times that meaning is not at all what the writer was feeling at the time it was written. Interpretation comes from an individual’s heart. I love the art of words. They both reflect and absorb life. Thank you for this.

    Liked by 1 person

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