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Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock

Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock

  

by Wallace Stevens

Lines 1-9 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 1-2

The houses are haunted
By white night-gowns.

  • Okay. Right off the bat, this is a silly poem.
  • We mean, nightgowns are basically big, white shirts that come down to the ankle. They're glorified sheets that people sleep in. They're ridiculous-looking.
  • Like out of some cartoon (do people watch Scooby Doo anymore?), a house is haunted by a person in a sheet… ish.
  • But it's not just one house. It's a whole bunch of houses. Those nightgowns are on the rampage.
  • The speaker might be giving the suburbs a hard time for being filled with boring people. In other words, we think that whole "haunted" business is really just a metaphor for the way in which all those denizens of suburbia wear the same exact boring old thing to bed.

Lines 3-6

None are green,
Or purple with green rings,
Or green with yellow rings,
Or yellow with blue rings.

  • Yep, it's a silly one.
  • Ugh, what a shame that none of these nightgowns are green, or purple, or any other color, with a little pattern. You know, something to shake things up?
  • See, the speaker is listing all the crazy colors that the nightgowns could be, but aren't, because the people in them don't like fun. He's using a little thing we like to call anaphora, or repeated phrases at the beginning of a like (in this case "Or") to really drive home the point.
  • By saying what the nightgowns don't look like, the speaker is giving us clues into how the scene could be more interesting if the people in the houses put a little effort into their wardrobes.
  • These nightgowns almost sound clown-like. The imagery here is all about bright colors and bold patterns.

Lines 7-9

None of them are strange,
With socks of lace
And beaded ceintures.

  • None of the nightgowns are weird enough for the speaker, who's obviously into absurd art. Either that or he's friends with Dolly Parton, who's no stranger to beads and lace. 
  • Since the subject of the sentence is a pronoun ("them"), we're not exactly sure what he or she is talking about, but we can assume he's referring to the nightgowns here.
  • Still, it's possible that the speaker is trying to tell us that the houses or the people in the houses aren't strange either. Which is a big ol' bummer.
  • The speaker thinks some lacy socks (um, those sound uncomfortable) or beaded belts (a.k.a. "ceintures") could jazz up the nightgowns. 
  • We agree. You know, we here at Shmoop our known for our style, and we'd like to add a little flow and color to the outfit.

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