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Collected Poetry & Prose

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Wallace Stevens' unique voice combined meditative speculation and what he called the "essential gaudiness of poetry" in a body of work of astonishing profusion and exuberance. Now, for the first time, the works of America's supreme poet of the imagination are collected in one authoritative volume.


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Wallace Stevens' unique voice combined meditative speculation and what he called the "essential gaudiness of poetry" in a body of work of astonishing profusion and exuberance. Now, for the first time, the works of America's supreme poet of the imagination are collected in one authoritative volume.

30 review for Collected Poetry & Prose

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mark David

    The reviews of this book (on this site) are rather curious. They range from typically over the top effusions to one delightful review which squanders its contention that Stevens has inexplicably been canonized by taking altogether too long to come to that conclusion. Any book that warrants so much attention cannot be convincingly rated at one star. But, of course, neither the pros nor cons quite get it right. Stevens is not a poet to hug to one's chest while trilling delighted arpeggios of vacuo The reviews of this book (on this site) are rather curious. They range from typically over the top effusions to one delightful review which squanders its contention that Stevens has inexplicably been canonized by taking altogether too long to come to that conclusion. Any book that warrants so much attention cannot be convincingly rated at one star. But, of course, neither the pros nor cons quite get it right. Stevens is not a poet to hug to one's chest while trilling delighted arpeggios of vacuous glee. Nor is he a poet one can easily dismiss. Certainly there are moments when his poems seem like little more than music set to a curiously old-fashioned beat. Then there are poems like the oddly mournful Emperor of Ice Cream, or the logically anti-logical Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird which challenge any reader to just try to toss them by the wayside. For me the modern myth-making of Sunday Morning and Ideas of Order at Key West are by now rather rapped into my subconscious, and I doubt I could ever set them aside no matter what heresies of sentimentality hold them in my fancy. I suppose the truly supreme fictions of poetry are those notions that force us into this stock market game of the literary canons — and the thought that our voices should be spent on thumbing works up and down rather than testing our minds against their echoing voices — as "when wakened birds Before they fly, test the reality Of misty fields, by their sweet questionings." Perhaps I should stop there, but the humbling reality of any poet is that life as we live it does not have its stanzas and endings so sweetly circumscribed. The frustration of Stevens, as with any poet, no matter the infinite evasions of as, is that when we leave the charmed circle, we find ourselves dropped back into the prosaic world, trying desperately to hold on to the cerulean clouds. The genius of Stevens, I suppose — lawyer, business man, sportsman, that he was — is that he knew this better than most — and wrote toward these cluttered worlds of prosey where-with-alls, not away from them.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mattia Ravasi

    The Library of America is not a cheap publishing house, but their editions are worth every penny you pay for them. Stevens is an incredibly enigmatic poet you'll spend hours trying to figure out. Sometimes you'll crack his works, sometimes you won't, sometimes you will and you won't like what you find, but if you are not obsessed with getting 100% of what's going on in what you read (an unhealthy obsession in any serious reader) then he can be rewarding in a mysterious, even magical way. Th The Library of America is not a cheap publishing house, but their editions are worth every penny you pay for them. Stevens is an incredibly enigmatic poet you'll spend hours trying to figure out. Sometimes you'll crack his works, sometimes you won't, sometimes you will and you won't like what you find, but if you are not obsessed with getting 100% of what's going on in what you read (an unhealthy obsession in any serious reader) then he can be rewarding in a mysterious, even magical way. There's something enchanting in the hours of boundless reverie you can get from a title like "Invective Against Swans."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kat

    Stevens is that rare - maybe singular - author who seems to have practised absolute creative autonomy and still made it into the mainstream canon. His imagery is flamboyant, magical, dizzying, and at first glance, entirely out of left field. Yes, there is his philosophy, his themes, his humour and his gravitas - and they all come together on a wild word ride. The literary references do come through for those in-the-know. But the power punch is the same as his achilles heel - the darin Stevens is that rare - maybe singular - author who seems to have practised absolute creative autonomy and still made it into the mainstream canon. His imagery is flamboyant, magical, dizzying, and at first glance, entirely out of left field. Yes, there is his philosophy, his themes, his humour and his gravitas - and they all come together on a wild word ride. The literary references do come through for those in-the-know. But the power punch is the same as his achilles heel - the daring of a big dreamer to spin his universe out of very brightly coloured thread.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Allan

    Stevens is often allusive, sometimes seeming elusive when in fact precise to the point of obscurity for those not prepared to follow. Consider the poetic range between "The Comedian as the Letter C" and "Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock". An erudite actuary? Try doing this at home! Non, nous ne sommes pas tous des artistes. These poems are all suffused with beauty, a kind of reverence for the imagination and the search for the vanishing point where what is might meet what might be. Glin Stevens is often allusive, sometimes seeming elusive when in fact precise to the point of obscurity for those not prepared to follow. Consider the poetic range between "The Comedian as the Letter C" and "Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock". An erudite actuary? Try doing this at home! Non, nous ne sommes pas tous des artistes. These poems are all suffused with beauty, a kind of reverence for the imagination and the search for the vanishing point where what is might meet what might be. Glints of gold in hard ore. My $0.02, anyway.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rich

    Wallace Stevens is my favorite poet. This Library of America collection is to be preferred as a source of his writing: it includes a number of additional poems relative to his Collected Poems (including the controversial long poem "Owl's Clover"), as well as alternate versions of some poems, juvenilia, and also Stevens's essays. Stevens is known, it seems to me, in two separate ways. In the popular sense, he is known for a series of remarkable early poems, in most cases not terribly l Wallace Stevens is my favorite poet. This Library of America collection is to be preferred as a source of his writing: it includes a number of additional poems relative to his Collected Poems (including the controversial long poem "Owl's Clover"), as well as alternate versions of some poems, juvenilia, and also Stevens's essays. Stevens is known, it seems to me, in two separate ways. In the popular sense, he is known for a series of remarkable early poems, in most cases not terribly long, notable for striking images and quite beautiful prosody. Of these poems the most famous is surely "Sunday Morning" -- other examples are "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird", "Peter Quince at the Clavier", "Sea Surface Full of Clouds", "Tea at the Palaz of Hoon", "The Emperor of Ice Cream", "The Idea of Order at Key West", "Of Modern Poetry". The great bulk of these come from his first collection, Harmonium, and indeed from the first edition of Harmonium, published in 1923. These were certainly my favorite among his poems on first reading. And they remain favorites. But his critical reputation rests strikingly on a completely different set of poems, all later than those mentioned above. (Though it must be acknowledged that at least "Sunday Morning" and "The Idea of Order at Key West" as well as two early long poems, "The Comedian as the Letter C" and "The Monocle de Mon Oncle", are in general highly regarded critically. And that most of his early work is certainly treated with respect.) I think it's fair to say that "late Stevens" begins with "Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction", perhaps his most highly regarded work. Of course the terms "late" and "early" are odd applied to Stevens. His first successful poems appeared in 1915 (including "Sunday Morning"), when he was 36. He was 44 when the first edition of Harmonium came out. That's pretty late for "early"! And by the 1942 publication of "Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction" he was 63. Indeed, his production from 1942 through his death in 1955 was remarkable: two major collections each with several long poems as well as at least another full collection worth of late poems, some included in this _Collected Poems_ but quite a few more not collected until after his death. What to say about late Stevens? The most obvious adjective is "austere". But that doesn't always apply -- he could also be quite playful. However, there is never the lushness of a "Sunday Morning" or "Sea Surface Full of Clouds" in the late works. The sentences tend to extraordinary length, but the internal rhythms are involving. The poems are all quite philosophical, much concerned with the importance of poetry, the nature of reality versus perceptions of reality, and, perhaps more simply, with growing old. (A Stevens theme, to be sure, that can be traced at least back to "The Monocle de Mon Oncle".) So: Stevens is an impossibly wonderful, remarkable, poet, either early or late. His lush and imagist early work remains a delight, and his philosophically involving late work rewards rereading and concentration. He is a poet to whom you can return again and again, and he will always be new.

  6. 5 out of 5

    David

    came home to the fragile christmas lights strung across the front of the house at a quarter to midnight. coughing. and coughing. the smell of the street is all dead leaves and squash. i pulled the plug and opened the door to two shelves of library of america books, a rectangle of black with a line of red, white and blue. banville's the sea is destroying me. i am nothing but memories. these tiny nothing in particular moments with my mother and father. my brothers and sister. i'm flying to buffalo came home to the fragile christmas lights strung across the front of the house at a quarter to midnight. coughing. and coughing. the smell of the street is all dead leaves and squash. i pulled the plug and opened the door to two shelves of library of america books, a rectangle of black with a line of red, white and blue. banville's the sea is destroying me. i am nothing but memories. these tiny nothing in particular moments with my mother and father. my brothers and sister. i'm flying to buffalo to spend a few days with her before her surgery. and i am nothing but memories. of winter sleds. and soggy mittens hung on a radiator to dry. she is an afghan and a rocking chair. she is a scarf. and i am one thousand miles away. entering a tiny house and pulling the plug and setting down my coat. and keys. coughing. and settling down to the quiet. flipping on a weak light against the dark. to a row of books. and pulling down wallace stevens. to his later poems. to his last poems. to july mountain. we live in a constellation of patches and of pitches, not in a single world, in things said well in music, on the piano, and in speech, as in a page of poetry – thinkers without final thoughts in an always incipient cosmos, the way, when we climb a mountain, vermont throws itself together. you cant help but turn the light off. sit there for a minute. the end beginning. you know. the end beginning and stepping back, settling down. it all comes together. your mother again. she is the photograph of a young girl smiling in a clotheslined backyard in the buffalo of her youth. a sunshine of a smile and her parents serious next to her. i imagine them thinking about bills. and laundry. of their little girl and her future. could they imagine her as a mug of hot chocolate. or a hot breakfast before school. could they see her as the hand that was held while walking one foot on the curb the other in the street. could they see her on a canadian beach paperback in hand and yelling "not so far" to us swimming in lake erie. there they are. preserved there on my old oak table, the last image before the light leaves and i'm off down the hall to bed.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Geoff Bartakovics

    This isn't a review of Stevens, of course. He's simply a great poet and doesn't deserve to be rated using a star system. Over Christmas holiday, in a fit of over-relaxation, I found a Harold Bloom lecture on iTunes University (under the Yale Lectures) section. He's doing a close reading of a Stevens poem. Though I'm not a huge Bloom close-reading fan, I was propelled to the NYPL to pick up this compilation to read along. A great Christmas 07 memory.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jay

    Wallace Stevens, on his birthday October 2 Sensuous, gorgeous poetry and puzzles of strange symbols like a private language or obfuscating code, Wallace Stevens combined in his art English Romanticism and French Symbolism like the performance of a highwire act. His poetry is a stunning negotiation of balance between the forces of conservatism- here expressed as the literary tradition of Romantic Idealism represented by Byron, Keats, Coleridge, Blake, Charlotte Bronte, and Mary Shelley, an Wallace Stevens, on his birthday October 2 Sensuous, gorgeous poetry and puzzles of strange symbols like a private language or obfuscating code, Wallace Stevens combined in his art English Romanticism and French Symbolism like the performance of a highwire act. His poetry is a stunning negotiation of balance between the forces of conservatism- here expressed as the literary tradition of Romantic Idealism represented by Byron, Keats, Coleridge, Blake, Charlotte Bronte, and Mary Shelley, and the revolutionizing force here represented by the Symbolists Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Valery, and Jarry. Its an intriguing game between these two teams, each playing their side of the board with wit and skill; the more so as Wallace Stevens deploys their methods as a grand strategist, playing both black and white sides of a chess-like game, his organizational principles referential to Hesse's The Glass Bead Game. His poetry includes the iconic Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, a classic teaching tool addressing multiple perspectives and relativity taught in every High School English program in America, the mission statement and toolset Ideas of Order at Key West in which interactions between objective reality and subjective experience are categorized by taxonomic hierarchy of orders of meaning, Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock which contrasts an old sailor dreaming in color with the monotone dreams of others referencing Coleridge's Kublai Khan as does the Wizard of Oz (sorry no rainbow or singing munchkins in this version), The Emperor of Ice Cream which interrogates its own identity as a self-reflective enigma, and the major poems in which he rejects Keats aesthetic and the Romantic work of projecting one's feelings onto nature and thus seizing ownership of it as if one were Adam naming the beasts, The Snow Man and Anecdote of the Jar. Ranging from a sly comic genius to meditational reveries of philosophic intent to flamboyant poems that strut and posture like glorious vogue queens, his work is an art that is all about the tension between freedom and control. The Necessary Angel: Essays on Reality and the Imagination explores the balance of reason and imagination with fictive art as the fulcrum which allows humanity to survive perils and hardships. His views on the nature and function of creativity, dreams, visions, and especially storytelling are very close to my own; that among our personal and sociocultural adaptive mechanisms- the forces that drive us onward- are a primary dyad which encompasses the whole and makes politics readable as a subset of aesthetics. Crucial to our survival are a conserving force, preserving that which has allowed us to survive thus far undamaged by time and change, holding fast our anchorages, and a revolutionary force, innovations which allow us to capitalize on chaos and dynamically unstable conditions, to adapt and shape ourselves to future needs. We need both working in complement to each other, a harmony of forces, to achieve an ideal person, government, or society, or indeed a poem, story, musical composition or work of visual art; one which is adaptable and survivable. Thus we abandon not our principles and values, while creating new meaning as history moves us forward. A beautiful political structure may be judged by the same criterion as a beautiful poem; so also with humans and the values their actions embody.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Clayton

    My favourite poet. A very nice edition.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chloe

    You did that hungry!! I loved it, every twist and turn caught me by surprise!! I can’t wait to read more of your books....

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    Browsing poetry causes me to reflect that in terms of whether we like a piece of writing or not -- we require words to be earned. PG wrote this essay: http://paulgraham.com/talk.html It conflates things as many people in the HN comments mentioned (talking can be complex too). But it gets at something very important. You cannot say the word 'heroic' unless you have earned it within the context that you are using it. That is, if there are other alternatives for that word in our big ass language Browsing poetry causes me to reflect that in terms of whether we like a piece of writing or not -- we require words to be earned. PG wrote this essay: http://paulgraham.com/talk.html It conflates things as many people in the HN comments mentioned (talking can be complex too). But it gets at something very important. You cannot say the word 'heroic' unless you have earned it within the context that you are using it. That is, if there are other alternatives for that word in our big ass language, you cannot use the word without it seeming to be used in a lazy way. If I use the word 'heroic' because someone has said that word in some dialogue in some story then of course I can use that word. That character has decided to use that word even though he or she hasn't necessarily earned use of it. Maybe we catch the character after a long dialogue and they do. Maybe not. But the reality is someone said that -- that's fine. But with the narrator or speaker (in poetry), it's less appealing. What do we mean by 'earn'? We mean it's lazy to use it if there are other words you could use in its place. 'Heroic' is never earned if it is used within the first few sentences because unless you are in some sort of synopsis mode, you can't possibly have reason to use that word yet. Heroic is a composite word. It requires many details to even make sense. You can draw on the reader's previous sense of the word 'heroic' but that's rather lazy. You don't want to sling things together too much based on what the reader is bringing in -- because after all the reader is interested in what you have to say -- not a programming of their own connotations and memories. Not yet. That's only to be synthesized much later. Instead of 'heroic', you really mean 'delighted'. Or smiling, etc. You mean visual things. Sensory things. And then eventually maybe you start with a small composite like 'confident' (which is actually a larger composite word than you might think but I digress). This is how 'showing not telling' works. Or it's related. If you rate each word you use, and give it a value based on the number of other words that could be chosen that are more to the point, you will get a value of 'tell' within your paragraphs. A value of laziness. And so that's what you want to avoid. As the paragraphs go on, you have more things shown to build on. But not in the beginning. Not if you want to be the writer that people assimilate with objective confidence in what you have to say. And yes to PG's point, writing like you 'talk' does tend to avoid 'telling' or 'composite' words that haven't had reason to be composed yet. * * * Read more Stevens again tonight. I had ordered this book and his letters. His letters are quite the 'answer guide'. Stevens wasn't a horrible person but his speakers are quite insensitive to their surroundings. Sometimes on purpose for some sort of self-reliant reason, as he does in 'Re-statement of Romance'. But often insensitively. He has a wonderful movement in and around those conservative, insensitive qualities he has. And he had some inventiveness ('Comedian with the Letter C' is like Shakespeare's long running sexual jokes with himself -- this long running attempt to use the sound 'c' as much as possible.. what.. an idiot.. but it focused him.) His ability to change gears between lines is sometimes really interesting like in 'Emperor'. And his grappling, moderately fierce grappling for the time (we seem much wiser than back then because our environment has improved I think at least socially). He's good that way. He is a good example of how simple words can have great meaning if they are never allowed to become complicated -- especially for readers who are precocious. But really he doesn't have very interesting ideas in the end. Just that he wants to talk about them. He was caught up with the depression of the weather and the amazing aspects of religion no longer being a source of Truth. He is so caught up with trying to understand meaning that he loses sensitivity to and appreciation for nature basically. Frost at least got that. But I suppose Stevens purposefully subverted that his whole life. The idea that context matters. He had an energy to subvert context. I think that's one of his contributions. Not sure what else. But again that energy to subvert contexts in a smart way is so attractive for people seeking meaning. He was one of my favorite poets growing up. Just my opinion but he could've used more groundedness in nature.

  12. 4 out of 5

    H

    Incredible. I don't know how I missed this the first time around, or how the essays in The Necessary Angel didn't strike me much earlier. From "Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction," 1.III: The poem refreshes life so that we share, For a moment, the first idea . . . It satisfies Belief in an immaculate beginning And sends us, winged by an unconscious will, To an immaculate end. We move between these points: From that ever-early candor to its late plural < Incredible. I don't know how I missed this the first time around, or how the essays in The Necessary Angel didn't strike me much earlier. From "Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction," 1.III: The poem refreshes life so that we share, For a moment, the first idea . . . It satisfies Belief in an immaculate beginning And sends us, winged by an unconscious will, To an immaculate end. We move between these points: From that ever-early candor to its late plural And the candor of them is the strong exhilaration Of what we feel from what we think, of thought Beating in the heart, as if blood newly came, An elixir, and incantation, a pure power. The poem, through candor, brings back a power again That gives a candid kind to everything. 3.X: How simply the fictive hero becomes the real; How gladly with proper words the soldier dies, If he must, or lives on the bread of faithful speech. From "The Rock," II: The fiction of the leaves is the icon Of the poem, the figuration of blessedness, And the icon is the man. From "Esthetique du Mal," XIII: It may be that one life is a punishment For another, as the son's life for the father's. But that concerns the secondary characters. It is a fragmentary tragedy Within the universal whole. The son And the father alike and equally are spent, Each one, by the necessity of being Himself, the unalterable necessity Of being this unalterable animal. This force of nature in action is the major Tragedy. This is destiny unperplexed, The happiest enemy. XV: And out of what one sees and hears and out Of what one feels, who could have thought to make So many selves, so many sensuous worlds, As if the air, the mid-day air, was swarming With the metaphysical changes that occur, Merely in living as and where we live.

  13. 5 out of 5

    carl

    I have to admit that it is difficult for me to discuss Stevens' poetry as ... well its poetry, and true poetry at that. There is a direct experience with the secular in life, the mundane, the material that imbues his work. God is dead in this world in a very real and nonreligious way. You have no sense the author is ridding himself of such things as belief or spirit. Instead it is almost a homecoming. As you walk through his poetry you are reminded again and again that this is all there is, and I have to admit that it is difficult for me to discuss Stevens' poetry as ... well its poetry, and true poetry at that. There is a direct experience with the secular in life, the mundane, the material that imbues his work. God is dead in this world in a very real and nonreligious way. You have no sense the author is ridding himself of such things as belief or spirit. Instead it is almost a homecoming. As you walk through his poetry you are reminded again and again that this is all there is, and yet, it is enough. In a collection of comic strips by Paul Madonna (All Over Coffee), Paul M. makes the comment at the end: Everything is its own reward. And I think Stevens would heartily agree. And yet, because of that distance from 'spirituality' or 'religion' his work is more deeply spiritual than almost all of what passes as writing on those topics. By being grounded solidly in the real, in this world, he has oddly opened up space for another. I cannot recommend Wallace Stevens enough. He is truly on my list of must-have books. There is great comfort there and great barrenness and somehow an oasis. This particular edition is from the Library of America series. These books are not only excellent collections in their content, but the printing, the paper, the binding even make these books a joy to own and read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    C. Varn

    Reviews of this book are difficult: Stevens' is paradigmatic of high modernism and has many of the problems of the time period. You can focus on his idiosyncratic use of language, his problematic views on race, his intellectualism, and his cerebral focus. Stevens' use of imagery is both magical and alienating at once, and ones reaction to that often shapes ones reception of his brand of modernism. This book has so much of his poetry that rougher spots are clear and his idiosyncratic images show Reviews of this book are difficult: Stevens' is paradigmatic of high modernism and has many of the problems of the time period. You can focus on his idiosyncratic use of language, his problematic views on race, his intellectualism, and his cerebral focus. Stevens' use of imagery is both magical and alienating at once, and ones reaction to that often shapes ones reception of his brand of modernism. This book has so much of his poetry that rougher spots are clear and his idiosyncratic images show some of their themes. That, however, is actually what this book is for. This collection, however, is the collected poetry and prose, and needs to be considered in that light. Including much of Stevens' prose gives insights into his thinking and aesthetics that may be harder to glean, particularly given Stevens' canonical status in modernist American poetry. The Library of America addition is nice, well-edited, and a solid physical object that will probably last. Overall, this may be overwhelming to readers new to Stevens, but for fans and scholars, this volume is a sound place to start.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Keith

    Stevens has written some of the most beautiful lines of blank verse poetry I've read. And some of his verse has a mystical concreteness of the best haikus. But I generally feel a coldness in his poetry and his metaphysics. His works seem dispassionate and coolly analytical, the topics are a bit too philosophical for my personal tastes. Idea of Order at Key West is one of the best poems I’ve ever read, and I enjoy Sunday Morning, Peter Quince at the Clavier and Thirteen Ways of Looking Stevens has written some of the most beautiful lines of blank verse poetry I've read. And some of his verse has a mystical concreteness of the best haikus. But I generally feel a coldness in his poetry and his metaphysics. His works seem dispassionate and coolly analytical, the topics are a bit too philosophical for my personal tastes. Idea of Order at Key West is one of the best poems I’ve ever read, and I enjoy Sunday Morning, Peter Quince at the Clavier and Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. But Le Monocle de Mon Oncle and Comedian as the Letter C leave me cold. His prose is stifling and uninteresting to me. Here's what I've (re)read so far: Harmonium (1923 edition) *** This collection contains some of Stevens’ most famous poems, including Sunday Morning, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, Peter Quince at the Clavier, Le Monocle de Mon Oncle, Snow Man, and more. The oft-anthologized poems are the strongest of the book. But of the rest of the poems in the collection, very few made a strong impression on me. (01/14)

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    There's some pretty incredible poetry in here, but you've got to read it for the sound, first, and then worry about the meaning. Alas, when I write a paper on it I have to do the reverse. (Aside: They don't teach us, in English departments, to write about aesthetic effects of texts, so when we get to a point where we have the chance to analyze that, it's a lot harder than a simple close reading.) Check out "Sunday Morning," one of the greatest poems ever, and "Rabbit as King of the Gh There's some pretty incredible poetry in here, but you've got to read it for the sound, first, and then worry about the meaning. Alas, when I write a paper on it I have to do the reverse. (Aside: They don't teach us, in English departments, to write about aesthetic effects of texts, so when we get to a point where we have the chance to analyze that, it's a lot harder than a simple close reading.) Check out "Sunday Morning," one of the greatest poems ever, and "Rabbit as King of the Ghosts" for something more fun, but still movingly heroic. "Loneliness in Jersey City" too. I think Stevens actually agrees "that things are all right" even though the phrase ("They think that things are all right" (my emphasis)) sounds cynical. This comes from the fact that the reason they think things are all right is that the deer and the dachsund are one, which he's already established is the case at the beginning.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dr. Carl Ludwig Dorsch

    Wallace Stevens, what's he done? He can play the flitter-flad; He can see the second sun Spinning through the lordly cloud. He's imagination's prince: He can plink the skitter-bum; How he rolls the vocables, Brings the secret -- right in Here! from "A Rouse for Stevens" by Theodore Roethke W.H. Auden, writing in ‘A Tribute’ to Igor Stravinsky, quotes him (Stravinsky): “I am not a mirror, struck by my mental functions. My interest passes entirely to the object, the thing made.” Wallace Stevens, what's he done? He can play the flitter-flad; He can see the second sun Spinning through the lordly cloud. He's imagination's prince: He can plink the skitter-bum; How he rolls the vocables, Brings the secret -- right in Here! from "A Rouse for Stevens" by Theodore Roethke W.H. Auden, writing in ‘A Tribute’ to Igor Stravinsky, quotes him (Stravinsky): “I am not a mirror, struck by my mental functions. My interest passes entirely to the object, the thing made.” The opposite might be said of Mr. Stevens, whose poetry apparently functioned as a mirror, who was much struck (at least superficially) by the workings of his own mind, and whose interest seemed to largely remain there on that surface. I don’t know how Wallace Stevens’ work got into the canon. Perhaps it’s one of those “You had to be there” instances.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    I have a question for readers of this book. I recently bought the Library of America complete works of Wallace Stevens. In the version of "the man whose pharynx was bad" in that volume, the lines "perhaps if summer ever came to rest / lengthened, deepened, comforted, caressed / through days like oceans in obsidian horizons" are omitted. An endnote says that these lines were included in the version of the poem published in The New Republic ten years before Harmonium, in 1921. My questi I have a question for readers of this book. I recently bought the Library of America complete works of Wallace Stevens. In the version of "the man whose pharynx was bad" in that volume, the lines "perhaps if summer ever came to rest / lengthened, deepened, comforted, caressed / through days like oceans in obsidian horizons" are omitted. An endnote says that these lines were included in the version of the poem published in The New Republic ten years before Harmonium, in 1921. My question is : does the version in Harmonium have these lines? If not, why not? They are a fundamental part of the structure and meaning of the poem. How can the definitive version be the "wrong" one? There must be a story behind this. Reflect, ponder, excogitate, reply.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    To be honest, I had never heard about this poet until I took a class on him in my final year of college. In general, I'm not a very big poetry fan but every once in a while I come across someone whose works do get to me. This was also the case for Wallace Stevens and my appreciation of his works even increased after I found out that he wrote poems inspired by William Butler Yeats. It might have been because of the academic environment and the enthusiasm with which my professor spoke of him, but To be honest, I had never heard about this poet until I took a class on him in my final year of college. In general, I'm not a very big poetry fan but every once in a while I come across someone whose works do get to me. This was also the case for Wallace Stevens and my appreciation of his works even increased after I found out that he wrote poems inspired by William Butler Yeats. It might have been because of the academic environment and the enthusiasm with which my professor spoke of him, but the more I read about and from this author, the more I liked him and he has gained a spot in my "favourite poets" list.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin

    Of course, this is some of the greatest poetry of the twentieth century. But it's also a wonderful edition. Not all of the Library of America volumes are of equal interest. Some (like the recent Philip K. Dick collection) are wasted opportunities that serve mostly to legitimate their authors. Others (like the Melville volumes) are useful compendiums, but not, in fact, the best editions available. That's not the case here. No other edition collects as many poems or makes as much of the prose avai Of course, this is some of the greatest poetry of the twentieth century. But it's also a wonderful edition. Not all of the Library of America volumes are of equal interest. Some (like the recent Philip K. Dick collection) are wasted opportunities that serve mostly to legitimate their authors. Others (like the Melville volumes) are useful compendiums, but not, in fact, the best editions available. That's not the case here. No other edition collects as many poems or makes as much of the prose available. Only the selection of letters leaves something to be desired.

  21. 4 out of 5

    John

    I have several editions of Stevens, but this is by far the best. Portable and complete. The Library of America makes very servicable books, with the ribbon bookmark and the powerful spine . . .

  22. 5 out of 5

    Marty

    Stevens, arguably the most intriguing and difficult American poet simultaneously exists in whimsical and deeply philosophic realms. Difficult to interpret or explicate, Stephens poetry comes to me as a beautifully structured mental jungle gym.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Barry Cunningham

    I've been currently reading this for nearly 50 years. Stevens's poetry is frequently enigmatic. Hence, I keep coming back to poems over and over again, reading new meanings into it. I still have not read it all, and when I have, it will still probably be on my Currently Reading list.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    wonderful complete library of america edition of the best poet of the twentieth century! Ok, maybe andrea zanzotto can compete. But he was influenced by stevens as a precursor, so how do you measure that?

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lance Lusk

    I could spend a lifetime with these poems and never get tired. They are incredibly intricate, beautiful, and contemplative, but in a very ordered way. I love The Library of America hardcover edition, well-made and handy.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michael Gossett

    Poets should study Stevens the way historians study the Founding Fathers.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Friedrick

    Just turn to one of the last (the very last?) poems in the book, "Of Mere Being," and you'll see why.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    The Library of America volumes are so ugly--Galliard is one of the most repellent typefaces ever devised--but I'll probably end up purchasing this, because it collects all of the prose.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Anastasios Kozaitis

    Read it. Read it again. Repeat.

  30. 5 out of 5

    David

    About to peruse it again.

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