By Eleanor Cook

Wallace Stevens is likely one of the significant poets of the 20th century, and in addition one of the such a lot tough. His poems could be astounding of their verbal brilliance. they can be shot via with lavish imagery and wit, educated by way of a lawyer's good judgment, and disarmingly unforeseen: a making a song jackrabbit, the seductive Nanzia Nunzio. additionally they spoke--and nonetheless speak--to modern issues. although his paintings is well known and his readership maintains to develop, many readers encountering it are baffled through such wealthy and weird poetry.

Eleanor prepare dinner, a number one critic of poetry and specialist on Stevens, supplies us the following the basic reader's consultant to this crucial American poet. cook dinner is going via every one of Stevens's poems in his six significant collections in addition to his later lyrics, in chronological order. for every poem she offers an introductory head be aware and a chain of annotations on tough words and references, illuminating for us simply why and the way Stevens used to be a grasp at his artwork. Her annotations, which come with either formerly unpublished scholarship and interpretive comments, will profit novices and experts alike. cook dinner additionally offers a short biography of Stevens, and provides a close appendix on how one can learn glossy poetry.

A Reader's consultant to Wallace Stevens is an fundamental source and the suitable significant other to The amassed Poems of Wallace Stevens, first released in 1954 in honor of Stevens's seventy-fifth birthday, in addition to to the 1997 assortment Wallace Stevens: amassed Poetry and Prose.

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Extra resources for A Reader's Guide to Wallace Stevens

Example text

If this meant that the idea of God was an illusion, he was not greatly troubled. For him, there were harmful illusions and benign illusions, and “the idea of God” was an example of “benign illusion” (L 402, 1942). Arnold’s simple substitution of poetry for religion has one great weakness: the obvious fact that poetry or imaginative literature simply did not have the force of religion in Victorian society, nor did it seem likely to attain such force. “Biblical imagination is one thing and the poetic imagination, inevitably, something else” (NA 144, LOA 731, 1948).

In 1942, Stevens published both the collection Parts of a World (1942) and the sequence Notes toward a Supreme Fiction, the latter in a limited edition by the Cummington Press. He judged these to be his best work so far (L 475, 1944; and cf. L 501, 1945). Notes, he said, meant more to him than Parts of a World (L 433, 1943). And not only to him. It is an extraordinary achievement. Stevens chose it to end his next collection, Transport to Summer. Still, Parts of a World shows Stevens moving from strength to strength, laying the groundwork for yet more powerful work to follow.

Staying with this subject threatened to eat away at his poetic world, his own gifts. ) His own place was New England, after all. Yet we could make a small anthology of Stevens’s few erotic lines and poems. Say, an erotic-invitation poem, a twentieth-century variation on Herrick’s “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may”: “Unsnack your snood, madanna, for the stars / Are shining on all brows of Neversink” (“Late Hymn from the MyrrhMountain”). The rest of the poem consists of lines that serve equally well for a human woman or for nature as a female form.

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