Study Guide

Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock Madness

By Wallace Stevens

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The houses are haunted (1)

Although people who claim they see ghosts are often thought of as crazy, the houses are only haunted metaphorically. So everyone's still sane. For now.

People are not going
To dream of baboons and periwinkles. (10-11)

Hey, we've had much weirder dreams after some spicy Thai food, but like the colors before, saying what something isn't just makes the reader want to imagine what the people could be dreaming of. Reverse psychology, anyone?

Only, here and there, an old sailor, (12)

We have to really use our imaginations to come up with a mental image of the sailors. It's as if a sailor represents a whole group of people that live exciting lives. Those of us who live quieter lives might envy the sailors a little as far as they are risk takers who frequently seek out new experiences.

Catches tigers
In red weather. (14-15)

Um, you'd have to be mad to attempt to catch a tiger—and in red weather nonetheless.

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