By Eleanor Cook
Wallace Stevens is likely one of the significant poets of the 20 th century, and likewise one of the so much demanding. His poems will be superb of their verbal brilliance. they can be shot via with lavish imagery and wit, proficient via a lawyer's good judgment, and disarmingly unforeseen: a making a song jackrabbit, the seductive Nanzia Nunzio. in addition they spoke--and nonetheless speak--to modern matters. even though his paintings is renowned and his readership maintains to develop, many readers encountering it are baffled by way of such wealthy and weird poetry.
Eleanor prepare dinner, a number one critic of poetry and specialist on Stevens, provides us right here the basic reader's advisor 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 presents an introductory head notice and a sequence of annotations on tricky words and references, illuminating for us simply why and the way Stevens used to be a grasp at his paintings. Her annotations, which come with either formerly unpublished scholarship and interpretive feedback, will profit newcomers and experts alike. prepare dinner additionally presents a short biography of Stevens, and gives an in depth appendix on the best way to learn smooth poetry.
A Reader's advisor to Wallace Stevens is an crucial source and definitely the right spouse to The accumulated 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: accrued Poetry and Prose.
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Extra resources for A Reader's Guide to Wallace Stevens
To keep him from forgetting” (“An Ordinary Evening in New Haven” xxv). Stevens once wrote, in a comment on “The Man with the Blue Guitar” (xxix), “I desire my poem to mean as much, and as deeply, as a missal” (L 790, 1953). He did not compare his poetry with a missal or anything like a missal in Harmonium, nor are there mentors in Harmonium. By 1939, his sense of the future involved “a conﬁdence in the spiritual role of the poet” (L 340). Stevens’s last collection before his Collected Poems (1954) appeared in 1949: The Auroras of Autumn.
Ideas of Order is just that (unless we prefer Judge Powell’s title, Ordeals of Ida). At a time of great social and economic disorder, at a time of new personal order, Stevens here steps back to meditate on ideas of order. Thinking about ideas of order is one way of confronting loss, of deciding how to live with changes that are not always welcome. Stevens’s sense of loss was partly public (the misery of the Depression, and the dangerous volatility of political systems around the world), and it was partly private (erotic loss).
Pecksniff, from Dickens’s Martin Chuzzlewit, is a type for a hypocrite and bully. ”) “Pecksnifﬁana” suggests that we ask what hypocritical stance each poem is set against. The answer is sometimes easy, sometimes not. The meaning of “Pecksnifﬁana” as “sayings of Pecksniff ” (as in “Virgiliana”) does not appear to be in play, yet it is not fully absent either; Stevens refuses to exempt himself from any taint of Pecksniffery. The poem offers a current American Venus, very much of the earth, if not yet of the stature of her European forerunner.
A Reader's Guide to Wallace Stevens by Eleanor Cook