|Wallace Stevens (circa 1931) from: 4umi.com|
"Hartford [Connecticut] is the place where the poet Wallace Stevens spent a substantial portion of his life, and he composed many of his verses — bizarrely exquisite blossoms unlike anything else in the canon of American literature — while migrating back and forth on foot between his comfortable house on Westerly Terrace and his office at an insurance company. [...]
This particular perambulation, though, is, like Hartford itself, quite modest. There are no tour guides; in keeping with the private enterprise of creating poetry, you’re on your own. Along the walk there are pale slabs of Connecticut granite engraved with verses from one of Wallace Stevens’s most indelible poems, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.”
That’s about it.
Nevertheless, I found the walk to be deeply moving. After all, how often do we get to explore the cranial machinery of a literary titan by slipping into the groove of his daily commute?
Stevens never learned to drive. Even though many of his neighbors had no idea what he was up to, he would amble along Asylum Avenue methodically measuring the pace of his steps and murmuring phrases to himself — phrases that would become some of the most haunting lines in the English language."
— Jeff Gordinier, The New York Times
"After a year, brain scans showed that among the walkers, the hippocampus had increased in volume by about 2 percent on average; in the others, it had declined by about 1.4 percent. Since such a decline is normal in older adults, 'a 2 percent increase is fairly significant,' said the lead author, Kirk Erickson, a psychologist at the University of Pittsburgh. Both groups also improved on a test of spatial memory, but the walkers improved more."
— Paula Span, The New York Times