Wallace Stevens

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Stevens, Wallace,

1879–1955, American poet, b. Reading, Pa., educated at Harvard and New York Law School, admitted to the bar 1904. While in New York, he mingled in literary circles and published his first poems in the magazine Poetry. Moving to Connecticut, he was associated after 1916 with the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company, and from 1934 until his death he served as its vice president. A master of exquisite, gravely lyrical verse, elegant in form and style, Stevens was concerned with creating some shape of order in the world's "slovenly wilderness" of chaos and with creating a life "unsponsored" by God but enriched by language and the imagination. These ideas are expressed in his earliest volume, Harmonium (1923), which contains many of the best known of his poems, including "Sunday Morning," in which a woman stays home from church and the spiritual remains, without God, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird," and "The Emperor of Ice Cream." His ideas are developed subsequently in Ideas of Order (1936); The Man with the Blue Guitar (1937); Parts of the World (1942); Transport to Summer (1947), which includes the long poem "Notes toward a Supreme Fiction," in which Stevens elaborates on the poet's role in creating the fictions necessary to transform and harmonize the world; The Auroras of Autumn (1950); The Necessary Angel, essays (1951); and Opus Posthumous (1957). His Collected Poems (1954) was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.


See his Collected Poetry and Prose, ed. by F. Kermode and J. Richardson (1997); letters, ed. by H. Stevens (1966); biographies by H. Stevens (1977), J. Richardson (2 vol., 1986–88), and P. Mariani (2016); studies by H. Vendler (1969), H. Bloom (1980), and E. Cook (2009).

Stevens, Wallace

(1879–1955) poet, insurance executive; born in Reading, Pa. He took a special course at Harvard (1897–1900) and published some poems while there. He went to New York City to work as a journalist (1900–01) but didn't care for journalism and went to New York University Law School (1901–03). He practiced law in New York City (1904–16) and in 1916 joined the legal staff of the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company, with which he remained until his death (becoming a vice-president in 1934). While in New York City he had come to know many of the leading writers and artists, and he published his first poems as an adult in 1914, with "Sunday Morning" appearing in Poetry magazine in 1915. His verse play, "Three Travelers Watch a Sunrise," (1916) won a Poetry prize and was produced by New York's Provincetown Playhouse (1917). His first collection of poetry, Harmonium, was published in 1923, and though selling less than 100 copies, received some acclaim from fellow poets. More collections followed throughout the 1930s and 1940s, but not until the 1950s did he begin to receive wider recognition, reflected in literary awards, publication of his essays and addresses, and tributes to him as a major modern poet. After his death his influence on poets and serious readers of poetry only increased, for they found in the meticulous language and daring metaphors of such poems as "The Emperor of Ice Cream" and "The Man with the Blue Guitar"—decidedly difficult as they are—the creative imagination that allows humans to face the reality Stevens valued.
References in periodicals archive ?
the Mind: Essays on the Poetry of Wallace Stevens (Baltimore: The Johns
and Wallace Stevens, the idea of god as humanity's best possibility comes in breath and moves into the air between us, moving us, making possible a change.
When he turned me toward Wallace Stevens in 1964, a window was opening on a radiant universe of reality and imagination, what Stevens might have thought of as the "supreme fiction.
Malcolm Woodland's new book on Wallace Stevens primarily discusses select poems and essays written during World War II in relation to an internally twinned desire for both apocalyptic discourse and antiapocalyptic discourse.
Man with Blue Guitar by Wallace Stevens inspired by Pablo Picasso's Old Guitarist
Stefan Holander on Wallace Stevens and Erik Hedling on film proceed similarly, yet the quality of these discussions suggests that, like other European scholars of literatures in English, they should be less modest and pursue arguments of their own.
The fourteen contributions discuss the relationship between revealed religion and literature: the role of religious identity, the work of Elias Canetti, the relationship between ethics and hermeneutics, coping with Europe after the Holocaust, the influence of Sigmund Freud, William Blake and the post-colonial imagination in Australia, the role of religion in Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things, the influence of Jeanette Winterson, Michel Tournier and Wallace Stevens, Cynthia's Ozick's novel, The Messiah of Stockholm, and the poetry of John Ashbery.
Wallace Stevens ventured even further, writing, "We say God and the imagination are one.
Some brief comments on his comparisons with such diverse thinkers as Michael Oakeschott, Hans-Georg Gadamer, and Wallace Stevens may serve to indicate the breadth and richness that he brings to these enlightening comparisons.
Wallace Stevens was as usual determined to establish his "relation to contemporary ideas" ("What is there in life except one's ideas / (.
And those who know the critical forays that Stephen Yenser has made in previous essays will not be disappointed by his "'How Coy a Figure': Marvellry": here Yenser delights not only by his subject (a peek inside the life, times, and talent of Andrew Marvell) but by the [M]arvel[l]ously off-beat way it comes to us, ranging in its references from Robert Herrick to Wallace Stevens to Yeats and Roland Barthes.
My techniques are akin in many ways to such East Coast poets as John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, Frank O'Hara and Wallace Stevens.