by Wallace Stevens
"Paganism" was a term used by Christians to refer to the religion that Christianity replaced: the religion of Ancient Rome and Greece, with its many gods and goddesses. The Romans especially were known for secretive rituals called "orgies," where they went out into the forest and sang, danced, drank, and, um, "hooked up" until they passed out from exhaustion. Their gods were inspired by events in nature, like the winds, the ocean, and the sun and stars. For this reason, the worship of nature is often called "paganism." Throughout history, this term is often used as an insult, but this poem adopts it like a badge of pride.
- Lines 31-35: Jove is the most powerful Roman god. He’s the god of, among other things, lightning, thunder, and light. The poet uses a simile to compare the creation of the myth to a king who walks among his followers, waiting to be recognized.
- Lines 51-56: The poet lists a bunch of different mythical visions of paradise, including the "golden underground," which probably refers to the Greek heaven known as Elysium, which is actually under the earth.
- Lines 91-105: Stanza VII describes a pagan ritual, complete with nakedness and dancing. The pagan men are a symbol of the worship of nature.