Wallace Stevens

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October 2, 1879 Reading, Pennsylvania, United States August 2, 1955 (aged 75) Died Hartford, Connecticut, United States Occupation Poet, Insurance Executive Nationality American Writing period 1914-1955 Literary movement Modernism Harmonium Ideas of Order Notable work(s) The Man With the Blue Guitar The Auroras of Autumn Children Holly Stevens Born Influences[show] Influenced[show]

Wallace Stevens (October 2, 1879 – August 2, 1955) was a American Modernist poet. He was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, and spent most of his life working for an insurance company in Connecticut. His best-known poems include "Anecdote of the Jar," "Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock", "The Emperor of Ice Cream," "The Idea of Order at Key West," "Sunday Morning," and "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird."


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1 Life and career 2 Poetry o 2.1 Imagination and reality o 2.2 Supreme fiction o 2.3 The role of poetry o 2.4 Reputation and influence 3 Bibliography o 3.1 Poetry o 3.2 Prose 4 References 5 Further reading 6 External links

[edit] Life and career

1936 Winged Liberty Head (Mercury) dime

Stevens' Hartford residence Stevens attended Harvard as a non-degree special student, after which he moved to New York City and briefly worked as a journalist. He then attended New York Law School, graduating in 1903. On a trip back to Reading in 1904 Stevens met Elsie Viola Kachel; after a long courtship, he married her in 1909. In 1913, the young couple rented a New York City apartment from sculptor Adolph A. Weinman, who made a bust of Elsie. (Her striking profile was later used on Weinman's 1916-1945 Mercury dime design and possibly for the head of the Walking Liberty Half Dollar.) A daughter, Holly, was born in 1924. She later edited her father's letters and a collection of his poems.[1] The marriage reputedly became increasingly distant, but the Stevenses never divorced.

After working for several New York law firms from 1904 to 1907, he was hired on January 13, 1908, as a lawyer for the American Bonding Company.[2] By 1914 he had become the vice-president of the New York office of the Equitable Surety Company of St. Louis, Missouri[3]. When this job was abolished as a result of mergers in 1916, he joined the home office of Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company[4] and left New York City to live in Hartford, where he would remain the rest of his life. By 1934, he had been named vice-president of the company.[5] After he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1955[6], he was offered a faculty position at Harvard but declined since it would have required him to give up his vice-presidency of The Hartford. In the 1930s and 1940s, he was welcomed as a member of the exclusive set centered on the artistic and literary devotees Barbara and Henry Church. Stevens was baptized a Catholic in April 1955 by Fr. Arthur Hanley, chaplain of St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut, where Stevens spent his last days suffering from stomach cancer.[7] This purported deathbed conversion is disputed, particularly by Stevens's daughter, Holly. [8] After a brief release from the hospital, Stevens was readmitted and died on August 2, 1955, at the age of 75. He is buried in Hartford's Cedar Hill Cemetery. Chuck Colson substantiates Stevens conversion in footnote 17 in his book "The Good Life", it reads on page 384: 17. Despite the peace that Stevens found in the weeks before his death, his conversion made everyone around him nervous, even the clergy. Stevens asked Father Hanley, Sister Bernetta Quinn, and others who knew about his conversion to keep the matter from his family. He was afraid that his wife would come to the hospital and become hysterical. This reflected class prejudices. Converting to Catholicism for a Hartford patrician was like becoming "honorary" shanty Irish. That was simply not done. It could get you thrown out of the country club. Father Hanley's bishop also wanted the matter to be kept quiet because he didn't want the Protestant population of Hartford fearing that they would be pestered by priests when they came to St. Francis. The hospital had a nonproselytizing image to maintain. Later, when Stevens's daughter learned of Father Hanley's claim, she flatly denied it could have happened. While this flew utterly in the face of the facts, attested to not only by Father Hanley but also by others who attended Stevens's baptism, Holly Stevens's displeasure with her father's conversion dissuaded many scholars from taking it seriously or discussing it at any length. Although Holly sold her father's papers to Pasadena's Huntington Library in the 1970s, she still controlled their use until her death in 1992. She gave scholars the impression that they would have limited access to quote from Stevens's papers if they paid too much attention to his conversion. For this reason, it seems, Peter Brazeau, who wrote an oral biography of Stevens and interviewed Father Hanley at length, used only a small portion of the material he developed on Stevens's conversion. Brazeau's taped interviews with Father Hanley are now part of the Huntington Library

collection, however, and if anyone still doubts the conversion, they can go listen to the tapes.

Stevens is a rare example of a poet whose main output came at a fairly advanced age. His first major publication (four poems from a sequence entitled "Phases" in the November 1914 edition of Poetry Magazine)[9] was written at the age of thirty-five, although as an undergraduate at Harvard, Stevens had written poetry and exchanged sonnets with George Santayana, with whom he was close through much of his life. Many of his canonical works were written well after he turned fifty. According to the literary critic Harold Bloom, who called Stevens the "best and most representative" American poet of the time[10], no Western writer since Sophocles has had such a late flowering of artistic genius.

[edit] Poetry
Stevens's first book of poetry, a volume of rococo inventiveness titled Harmonium, was published in 1923. He produced two more major books of poetry during the 1920s and 1930s and three more in the 1940s. He received the National Book Award in 1951[11] and 1955.[12]

[edit] Imagination and reality
Stevens, whose work was meditative and philosophical, is very much a poet of ideas.[10] “The poem must resist the intelligence / Almost successfully,”[13] he wrote. Concerning the relation between consciousness and the world, in Stevens's work "imagination" is not equivalent to consciousness nor is "reality" equivalent to the world as it exists outside our minds. Reality is the product of the imagination as it shapes the world. Because it is constantly changing as we attempt to find imaginatively satisfying ways to perceive the world, reality is an activity, not a static object. We approach reality with a piecemeal understanding, putting together parts of the world in an attempt to make it seem coherent. To make sense of the world is to construct a worldview through an active exercise of the imagination. This is no dry, philosophical activity, but a passionate engagement in finding order and meaning. Thus Stevens would write in The Idea of Order at Key West, Oh! Blessed rage for order, pale Ramon, The maker's rage to order words of the sea, Words of the fragrant portals, dimly-starred, And of ourselves and of our origins, In ghostlier demarcations, keener sounds.[14] In his book Opus Posthumous, Stevens writes, “After one has abandoned a belief in god, poetry is that essence which takes its place as life’s redemption." [15] But as the poet attempts to find a fiction to replace the lost gods, he immediately encounters a problem: a direct knowledge of reality is not possible.

Stevens suggests that we live in the tension between the shapes we take as the world acts upon us and the ideas of order that our imagination imposes upon the world. The world influences us in our most normal activities: "The dress of a woman of Lhassa, / In its place, / Is an invisible element of that place / Made visible."[16] Likewise, were we to place a jar on a hill in Tennessee, we would impose an order onto the landscape. As Stevens says in his essay "Imagination as Value", “The truth seems to be that we live in concepts of the imagination before the reason has established them."[17] The imagination is the mechanism by which we unconsciously conceptualize the normal patterns of life, while reason is the way we consciously conceptualize these patterns. The jar is a striking example of an order that does not feel a part of the land, and so seems to violate the existing order: “It did not give of bird or bush, / Like nothing else in Tennessee”.[18] Contrast this to the feeling one gets while looking over the water where boats are anchored in darkness, with lanterns hanging on poles, “Arranging, deepening, enchanting night”.[19] When the imagination is available to reality and does not try to force itself, reality becomes like a bar of sand onto which the imagination naturally washes and recedes. The imagination can only conceive of a world for a moment--a particular time, place and culture--and so must continually revise its conception to align with the changing world. And as these worldviews come and go, each person is pulled in his or her normal life between the influence the world has on imagination and the influence imagination has on the way we view the world. For this reason, the best we can hope for is a well-conceived fiction, satisfying for the moment, but sure to lapse into obsolescence as new imaginings wash over the world.

[edit] Supreme fiction
The imagination loses vitality as it ceases to adhere to what is real. When it adheres to the unreal and intensifies what is unreal, while its first effect may be extraordinary, that effect is the maximum effect that it will ever have.[20]

Throughout his poetic career, Stevens was concerned with the question of what to think about the world now that our old notions of religion no longer suffice. His solution might be summarized by the notion of a “Supreme Fiction.” In this example from the satirical "A High-Toned Old Christian Woman," Stevens plays with the notions of immediately accessible, but ultimately unsatisfying, notions of reality: Poetry is the supreme Fiction, madame. Take the moral law and make a nave of it And from the nave build haunted heaven. Thus, The conscience is converted into palms Like windy citherns, hankering for hymns. We agree in principle. That’s clear. But take

The opposing law and make a peristyle, And from the peristyle project a masque Beyond the planets. Thus, our bawdiness, Unpurged by epitaph, indulged at last, Is equally converted into palms, Squiggling like saxophones. And palm for palm, Madame, we are where we began.[21] The saxophones squiggle because, as J. Hillis Miller says of Stevens in his book, Poets of Reality, the theme of universal fluctuation is a constant theme throughout Stevens poetry: "A great many of Stevens’ poems show an object or group of objects in aimless oscillation or circling movement.”[22] In the end, reality remains. The supreme fiction is that conceptualization of reality that seems to resonate in its rightness, so much so that it seems to have captured, if only for a moment, something actual and real. I am the angel of reality, seen for a moment standing in the door. ... I am the necessary angel of earth, Since, in my sight, you see the earth again, Cleared of its stiff and stubborn, man-locked set, And, in my hearing, you hear its tragic drone Rise liquidly in liquid lingerings, Like watery words awash; ... an apparition appareled in Apparels of such lightest look that a turn Of my shoulder and quickly, too quickly, I am gone?[23] In one of his last poems, "Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour", Stevens describes the experience of an idea which satisfies the imagination, “This is, therefore, the intensest rendezvous. / It is in that thought that we collect ourselves, / Out of all the indifferences, into one thing.” This one thing is “a light, a power, the miraculous influence” wherein we can forget ourselves, sensing a comforting order, “A knowledge, that which arranged the rendezvous, / within its vital boundary, in the mind.”[24] This knowledge necessarily exists within the mind, since it is an aspect of the imagination which can never attain a direct experience of reality. We say God and the imagination are one . . . How high that highest candle lights the dark. Out of this same light, out of the central mind We make a dwelling in the evening air, In which being there together is enough.[25]

Stevens concludes that God is a human creation, but that feeling of rightness which for so long a time existed with the idea of God may be accessed again. This supreme fiction will be something equally central to our being, but contemporary to our lives, in a way that God can never again be. But with the right idea, we may again find the same sort of solace that we once found in divinity. "[Stevens] finds, too, a definite value in the complete contact with reality. Only, in fact, by this stark knowledge can he attain his own spiritual self that can resist the disintegrating forces of life . . . . Powerful force though the mind is . . . it cannot find the absolutes. Heaven lies about the seeing man in his sensuous apprehension of the world . . .; everything about him is part of the truth." [26] . . . Poetry Exceeding music must take the place Of empty heaven and its hymns, Ourselves in poetry must take their place[27] In this way, Stevens’s poems adopt attitudes that are corollaries to those earlier spiritual longings that persist in the unconscious currents of the imagination. “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."[28] The "first idea" is that essential reality that stands before all others, that essential truth; but since all knowledge is contingent on its time and place, that supreme fiction will surely be transitory. This is the necessary angel of subjective reality--a reality that must always be qualified--and as such, always misses the mark to some degree--always contains elements of unreality. Miller summarizes Stevens's position: "Though this dissolving of the self is in one way the end of everything, in another way it is the happy liberation. There are only two entities left now that the gods are dead: man and nature, subject and object. Nature is the physical world, visible, audible, tangible, present to all the senses, and man is consciousness, the nothing which receives nature and transforms it into something unreal . . . ."[29]

[edit] The role of poetry
Stevens often writes directly about poetry and its human function. The poet “tries by a peculiar speech to speak / The peculiar potency of the general, / To compound the imagination’s Latin with / The lingua franca et jocundissima.”[30] Moreover, “The whole race is a poet that writes down / The eccentric propositions of its fate.”[31] In a manner reminiscent of Wordsworth, Stevens saw the poet as one with heightened powers, but one who like all ordinary people continually creates and discards cognitive depictions of the world, not in solitude but in solidarity with other men and women. These cognitive depictions find their outlet and their best and final form as words; and thus Stevens can say, "It is a world of words to the end of it, / In which nothing solid is its solid self."[32] In a poem called "Men Made out of Words," he says: "Life / Consists of propositions about life.”[33] Poetry is not about life, it is intimately a part of life. As

Stevens wrote elsewhere, “The poem is the cry of its occasion, / Part of the res itself and not about it. / The poet speaks the poem as it is, // Not as it was.”[34] Modern poetry is “the poem of the mind in the act of finding / What will suffice.”[35] It has to be living, to learn the speech of the place. It has to face the men of the time and to meet The women of the time. It has to think about war And it has to find what will suffice. It has To construct a new stage. It has to be on that stage, And, like an insatiable actor, slowly and With meditation, speak words that in the ear, In the delicatest ear of the mind, repeat, Exactly, that which it wants to hear, at the sound Of which, an invisible audience listens, Not to the play, but to itself, expressed In an emotion as of two people, as of two Emotions becoming one. [36] His poem An Ordinary Evening in New Haven is an obsessive, self-conscious digression about the creation of poetry.[10] We keep coming back and coming back To the real: to the hotel instead of the hymns That fall upon it out of the wind. We seek The poem of pure reality, untouched By trope or deviation, straight to the word, Straight to the transfixing object, to the object At the exactest point at which it is itself, Transfixing by being purely what it is A view of New Haven, say, through the certain eye, The eye made clear of uncertainty, with the sight Of simple seeing, without reflection. We seek Nothing beyond reality. To create a stage is, for Stevens, a metaphor for the need of modern poetry to make its own new arena or realm in which it should be presented and in which it can be understood. Modern poetry is like "an insatiable actor because it continually must be in "the act of finding what will suffice." Stevens puns on the meaning of "act." In one sense, poetry is an act, learning the speech, meeting the women, facing the men, etc. In another sense, it is a dramatic performance meant to be heard by an audience, as it speaks words that echo in the mind of the listener. The audience is "invisible" in the sense that a poet rarely meets his or her readers. The typical reader picks up a book of poems and reads a poem or two, and the author never sees this happening. The reading of poetry is often a conversation between strangers. In this poem the two people are the actor that is the poem and the audience that is the listener, and their emotions should become "one." The poet should find the words that will speak to the delicatest ear of its modern listeners, echoing

what it wants to hear but cannot articulate for itself. The poet, in the act of the poem, finds the sufficing words and for the audience and they allow the listeners to hear what is in their ear, their mind. As a result, the emotions of speaking and listening, of poet as actor and listeners as audience, should become one.

[edit] Reputation and influence
From the first, critics and fellow poets recognized Stevens's genius. Hart Crane wrote to a friend in 1919, after reading some of the poems that would make up Harmonium, "There is a man whose work makes most of the rest of us quail."[37]In the 1930s, the critic Yvor Winters criticized Stevens as a decadent hedonist but acknowledged his great talent. Beginning in the 1940s, critics such as Randall Jarrell spoke of Stevens as one of the major living American poets, even if they did so (as Jarrell did) with certain reservations about Stevens’s work. Stevens’s work became even better known after his death. Harold Bloom, Helen Vendler, and Frank Kermode are among the critics who have ensured Stevens’s position in the canon as a great poet. Many poets—James Merrill and Donald Justice most explicitly—have acknowledged Stevens as a major influence on their work, and his impact may also be seen in John Ashbery, Mark Strand, Jorie Graham, John Hollander, and others. In 1977 David Hockney authored a book of etchings called "The Blue Guitar: Etchings By David Hockney Who Was Inspired By Wallace Stevens Who Was Inspired By Pablo Picasso". The book included the poetry of Wallace Stevens. The etchings were inspired by and were meant to represent the themes of Stevens's poem, "The Man With The Blue Guitar", which was inspired by a 1903 painting by Pablo Picasso titled "The Old Guitarist". It was published as a portfolio and as a book in spring 1997 by Petersburg Press.

[edit] Bibliography
[edit] Poetry
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Harmonium (1923) Ideas of Order (1936) Owl's Clover (1936) The Man with the Blue Guitar (1937) Parts of a World (1942) Transport to Summer (1947) The Auroras of Autumn (1950) Collected Poems (1954) Opus Posthumous (1957) The Palm at the End of the Mind (1972) Collected Poetry and Prose (New York: The Library of America, 1997)

[edit] Prose

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The Necessary Angel (essays) (1951) Letters of Wallace James Stevens, edited by Holly Stevens (1966) Secretaries of the Planet Mars: The Letters of Wallace Stevens & Jose Rodriguez Feo, edited by Beverly Coyle and Alan Filreis (1986) Sur plusieurs beaux sujets: Wallace Stevens's Commonplace Book, edited by Milton J. Bates (1989) The Contemplated Spouse: The Letter of Wallace Stevens to Elsie, edited by D.J. Bluont(2006)

A Study of "Study of Two Pairs"
Wallace Stevens' poem "Study of Two Pears" uses language in a very ambiguous way. His diction makes interpretation of the work an effort that may not produce precise results. "Study" can be read as an art review or perhaps even one big play of words. The effect of multiple results may very well have been intended, as the language is common to many types of interpretation. This descriptive language used by Stevens in "Study of Two Pears" creates a paradox that allows for multiple interpretations of the work. In attempting to clarify this paradox, perhaps it is best to start from the beginning. The term "study" seems to take on multiple meanings in explaining the poem. Using the word in artistic terms, it is sensible to assume that Stevens was referring to a painting or a sculpture in the poem. The paradox ensues, however, as study can also be interpreted in a scientific fashion. Discussing the pears' "yellow forms / composed of curves" (5-6) in very scientific fashion also seems to be possible. No matter which explanation is chosen, the quotations cited as evidence may also be cited for the other side of the argument. Perhaps in this paradoxical definition of study Stevens wished to bring light to his medium: language. The vivid dialogue that describes the pears creates an image of pears in our minds. It is definitely plausible to consider a poem a "literary study." Upon reflection, it seems a valid conclusion that the medium in which Stevens presents his "Opusculum pedagogue"(l) is as effective as the media previously discussed. Building on the paradox established within the discussion of the definition of "study", Stevens makes the poem even more inconsistent with the diction he used. For example, the opening line, "Opusculum pedagogue" (1), would seem to set a very formal, structured tone for the work. When translated, however, the imposing Latin phrase becomes "a trivial work pertaining to education." This definition can be viewed as ironic, seeing as one of Steven's intentions with the poem was to engage thought. It is almost as if Stevens announces his purpose from the beginning, and is still misunderstood at the end.

Another example of diction continuing the paradox in "Study of Two Pears" is found in line five, where Stevens states, "They are yellow forms." This can be easily deciphered as a reference to Platonic metaphysics. In saying that the pears are forms, Stevens may well be implying that the original observer is the only one who truly knows the pears, and the remaining people are left with "blobs on the green cloth" (22). This theory gains more support at the end of the poem, when Stevens states, "The pears are not seen / As the observer wills." (23-24). This statement, which is not linked definitely to any other in the poem, can definitely lend its support to the theory that the true pears exist only in the mind of Stevens. This can be further explained in Platonic terms by saying that the ideal of the pears resides in Stevens' head. Because of this, second declension of the form resides in the poem; and as the poem is read, the audience becomes the third declension. "Study of Two Pears" in itself is a paradox, and that may in part be a result of the poet. The life of Wallace Stevens could also be considered a paradox. As a professional, Stevens gravitated towards careers rooted in logic. He held positions as a lawyer, an accountant and eventually as an executive in an insurance company. When he was not working, Stevens' interests were hardly parallel to his career choices. Stevens was an avid art aficionado, and he would frequent galleries on his way home. These trips to and from the office were also where much of his poetry was composed. That fact could be a possible insight into Stevens' intended meaning of "Study." Upon careful examination, it is as equally likely that the poem was written upon visiting an art gallery as it is likely that it was written following a trip to the produce market. It is not unfathomable to call "Study of Two Pears" a word play that is designed to engage the mind in self-debate. Perhaps Stevens wished to create "blobs" (22) in the minds of his readers. It is also possible that the work was itself based upon Stevens's interpretation of another work, the medium of which need not be pondered. To come to a definite conclusion about the relationship of the poem to the biography of Stevens is as impractical as declaring a concrete meaning of the poem itself. "Study of Two Pears" provides its readers a large amount of space for inquiry. The poem was written ambiguously, and perhaps that ambiguity is what Stevens intended. It was this blurred sense that gives the poem its quality, as "Study of Two Pears" gains its literary quality because it can be so widely adapted. Works Cited Wallace Stevens. The Academy of American Poets. 17 October 2000. <http:/ /www .poets.org/poets/poets.cfm?pmlD=125>. Back to Previous Page

A Poet of the Time
-----An Analysis of Modern Features of Stevens’s Poetry I

Wallace Stevens made an unceasing effort searching for the interdependent relationship between reality and imagination. It is the lifelong subject matter of his poetry. As Stevens stated in “The Noble Rider and the Sound of Words”: The subject matter of poetry is not that “collection of solid, static objects extended in space” but the life that is lived in the scene that it composes; and so reality is not that external scene but the life that is lived in it….It is not that the imagination adheres to reality, but, also, that reality adheres to the imagination and that the interdependence is essential.(Juhasz,1974,p33) This relation, however, is not conventional one. Concerning this subject matter, that his attempt to renovate poetry to fit the changing world is out of question. Modern elements are prominent in his poetry. He not only deserves his title of Modernist, but also is known as one of the greatest poets of the Modern Era. My intention here is to account for Modern features of his poetry and views by analyzing his poems that well exemplify these features.

Modern features, I assert, are manifested in themes, technic and language of his poetry. Firstly. Unlike the traditional themes which are mostly about God, love, beauty and nature, the foremost concern of his poetry is mutability. To elucidate this mutability, he thinks one should have active mind. The best example showing this idea is his Of Modern Poetry: By starting with “The poem of the mind in the act of finding/ What will suffice”, the poet has already clarified his theme or view on Modern poetry. It is followed by “ It has not always had / To find: the scene was set; it repeated what / Was in the script.” “It” here the poet is referring to the conventional poetry. He compares it to the actors playing their roles on the stage. Since “the scene was set, it repeated what was in the script”, nothing new could come out. So the actors are merely imitators, not being active at all. Unchanging is the characteristic of the old poetry. Obviously, the poet is not satisfied with this. That is why he makes such a statement at the very beginning: “The poem of the mind in the act of finding/ What will suffice”. In the following stanza, the poet proposes to “construct a new stage”: Then the theatre was changed To something else. Its past was a souvenir. It has to be living, to learn the speech of the place. It has to face the men of the time and to meet The women of the time. It has to think about war To construct a new stage. The change of theater indicates the change of background. With the rapid development of Modern technology, changes are inevitable. Machines, Gas lights, cars, telephones and many other new inventions bring convenience to people’s daily life. But on the other hand, it brings anxiety to Modern people who have to keep up with the fast pace of the Modern Time. In addition, the invention of mass destructive weapons brings disaster to

the world. Modern poetry should be the reflection of reality. To reflect such reality, the poet finds the limitations of the old theme, old form and old language of the conventional poetry. Consequently he asserts the change of poetry with the change of time. “It has to be living, to learn the speech of the place./ It has to face the men of the time and to meet /The women of the time. It has to think about war/ To construct a new stage.” As Pearl (Engl 499)points out, “in contrast to the unchanging nature of past poetry, modern poetry must be alive and changing.” And “his emphasis is on the present, on the here and now, on the process(Hilkovitz, Engl 499). Secondly. Modern feature is also shown in his attempt to try new technic in his poems. Study of Two Pears is the representative among them because we can easily notice Cubist traits in this poem. I Opusculum paedagogum. The pear are not viols, Nudes or bottles. They resemble nothing else. II They are yellow forms Composed of curves Bulging toward the base. They are touched red. III They are not flat surfaces Having curved outlines. They are round Tapering toward the top. IV In the way they are modelled There are bits of blue. A hard dry leaf hangs From the stem. V The yellow glistens. It glistens with various yellows, Citrons, oranges and greens Flowering over the skin. VI

The shadows of the pears Are blobs on the green cloth. The pears are not seen As the observer wills. (Study of Two Pears) The poet begins the poem by defining what pears are. But his definition is unique in a way appealing readers’ visual attention. The juxtaposition of images such as viols, nudes or bottles that have least relationship with pears invokes readers’ imagination. Reading the lines, we “see” pictures of these images. What he is suggesting in the first stanza is that pears are nothing else but pears. The detailed description of pears in the following two stanzas gives a vivid picture which imposes strong visual effect on the “observers” owing to the shape, color, outline and resemblance derived from painting. However a big change occurs from the fourth stanza. The appearance of color images, such as “blue”, “yellow” and “green” makes the pears look very different. How could the pears become so? We could find the answer from the key word “modelled”. As Juhasz (1974) argued, “modelled,” the pears, it is at least hinted, appear as sculptures created by an artist, grouped in a classical still-life arrangement. So the pears which symbolizes reality in the first three stanzas change into work of art in the rest stanzas of poems. By employing imagination, we can observe and view it from different perspectives. In addition, like Cubist painting, the short lines and brief stanzas forming a long and narrow picture also attract our visual attention. The employment of such technic in his poetry, I thinks, owes much to “his interest in the experimental movements of the avant garde, such as Dadaism and Cubism (McCann, 1995)”. Especially his connection with Arensberg makes it possible for him to have link to the radical movement of his age. As Schaum (1988, p9) points out: At Harvard, Arensberg had been described as the young man “ who knew all that was to be known about Pater” (Lafferty 113). Now, as a figure in Greenwich Village of the 1910s, he seemed an axle whose spokes extended to nearly every new movement: symbolism, imagism, dadaism, surrealism. “His interest [in fellow artists] amounted to excitement,” wrote Wallace Stevens in later years. “He was just the man to become absorbed in cubism and in everything that followed” (Stevens, Letters 821-22). Afred Kreymborg, too, remarked that Arensberg “made each movement his own… Symbolism, Imagism, Vorticism, Cubism, Dadaism” (Kreymborg, Strength 467). If Stevens can be said to have had a link to the more radical movements of the age, Arensberg may well have been that early connection. In addition, Stevens’s language is unexpectable, exciting and experimental. Sometimes he invents merely words, sometimes he uses sensual language sometime he imposes Latin or French to increase ironical power or aesthetic effect. From the following explanation of the title Le Monocle de Mon Oncle we can have some idea of his view on language: That means of course My Uncle’s Monocle, or merely a certain point of view. Certainly, the choice of the words is intentional, … In addition to the excitement of suave sounds, there is an excitement, an insistent provocation in the strange

cacophonies of words…. (Letters of Wallace Stevens, 1966, pp.250-1) Likewise, he finds excitement in deliberate choice of words in many of his poem . Bantams in Pine-Woods is one of them that well exemplifies this: Chieftain Iffucan of Azcan in caftan Of tan with henna hackles, halt! Damned universal cock, as if the sun Was blackamoor to bear your blazing tail. Fat! Fat! Fat! Fat! I am the personal. Your world is you. I am my world. You ten-foot poet among inchlings. Fat! Begone! An inchling bristles in these pines, Bristles, and points their Appalachian tangs, And fears not portly Azcan nor his hoos. It seems like an ironic joke. Rather than analyzing the implied meaning of the poem, , I will proceed now to a consideration of language itself which is my focus here. The first stanza reminds me of a tongue twist or a children’s game: Icky bicky soda cracker /Icky bicky boo…. The poet juxtaposes the words with similar pronunciation which do not make much sense. Among them “Iffucan” and “Azton” are no doubt the words he coined to fit the rhyme or rather the game of the language. The repetition of the sound [ n] which starts from the first word of the first line and wrap to the second line provokes, what he called, “ in the strange cacophonies of words”. These sounds stimulate one’s excitement by preventing him/her from breathing articulating as if being choked. Besides, the multiplying of h’s are no alliteration, rather, they have the effect of stuttering hence suffocating. The repeated use of “Fat” with “!” mark is stressful and ironical. “The plaster of subterfuge is, he says, ‘Like a word in the mind that sticks at artichoke/ And remains inarticulate.’” (Moore, 1937, p166) Sensual language appears frequently in his poems. Study of Two Pears , as I mentioned above, is full of sensual images such as color, shape to stimulate our visual sense. In Sunday morning for example, “The pungent oranges and bright, green wings…”can not only give us sensual enjoyment of ordinary day life with the woman of metropolis but also forms a strong contrast with the conceptual world where she thinks of religion. Besides he employs Latin words (e.g Opusculum paedagogum. In Study of Two Pears) or foreign languages to increase the aesthetic or ironic effects.


Modern feature is also manifested in his view on the relationship between observed and observer or precisely the poet, poem and reader. Regarding this relationship, he accentuates the importance of reader’s participation. His Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird tells the possibility to interpret a poem from different perspectives. The title itself implicates this. One blackbird indicates one poem. But there are thirteen ways to look at it, in other words, there are numerous ways to perceive it. Then in each stanza, the poet tells us one way to attain it: I Among twenty snowy mountains, The only moving thing Was the eye of the blackbird. This is an imagist verse, consisted of two predominant images---snowy mountains and the eye of the blackbird. Either white snow and black bird or still mountain and moving of the eye of the bird forms strong contrast. So this stanza suggests us to view the blackbird (poem) in comparison of contradictory things. II I was of three minds, Like a tree In which there are three blackbirds. I think the “I” here is the poet , a specific poet like himself or a generic poet. “Mind” refers to imagination. Multiplying mind into minds indicates what he always claims --imaginative mind or active mind. The simile “like a tree in which there are three blackbirds” shows good imagination produces good works. Then in stanza III, “The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds./ It was a small part of the pantomime.” Just as Of Modern Poetry in which he compares poetry to an actor on the stage, the blackbird plays similar role in the pantomime. The bird’s whirling reinforces his central motif: the Modern poem is not simply the poem of the mind, but the poem of the active mind, of the mind in action. IV A man and a woman Are one. A man and a woman and a blackbird Are one. This stanza shows his belief in the union of reality and imagination. “The source of reality is place, the world; the source of imagination is person, the poet. Thus, it is important to Stevens to achieve the unity of imagination and reality”. And he achieve the unity by means of poetry. So “poetry is the marriage, or the fruit, of imagination and the

world, and hence the highest human activity.” He uses figure to explain this in this stanza. The following stanza, by pointing out “I do not know which to prefer,/ The beauty of inflections, /Or the beauty of innuendoes, / The blackbird whistling /Or just after”, he is actually suggesting the variety forms of writing. Living in Modern world, confronting different literary movements, he has no idea which to prefer, because each has its “beauty” in it. This shows his readiness to accept all different forms. VI Icicles filled the long window With barbaric glass. The shadow of the blackbird Crossed it, to and fro The mood Traced in the shadow An indecipherable cause. By projecting the brutal situation that Modern people have to confront in the first two lines, it suggests the miniature of Modern life. As I have mentioned above, rapid change of the world prevents people from perceiving it and having good insights. Instead it makes them live in anxiety and perplexity. Modern literature which is the reflection of reality is also hard to understand. The word “shadow” is used twice here to imply such condition. Then the poet tells us that is why the mood is indecipherable. In stanza VII, the poet convinces us that the trivial, ugly things can be subject matter of Modern poetry, not only noble, graceful thing like golden bird. He therefore questions “Why do you imagine golden birds?” This is also feature of Modern literature. That may be the reason why he chooses blackbird as the subject of the poem. In stanza X, the poet reinforces readers’ response by mentioning that they cry out sharply at the sight of blackbird. This exclamation comes from their excitement in appreciating the poetry. While others in the next stanza are afraid of it: “Once, a fear pierced him”. But this fear merely comes from misunderstanding, for the following line is “In that shadow of his equipage / For blackbirds.” The equipage, I think, is the preknowledge of the reader or his approach to access the poem. They influence people’s perception on poetry. In the XII stanza, the poet claims with the changing of time, poetry must change. The time image is expressed by the moving river. The line “The blackbirds must be flying” is his strong invocation on the change of both the poetry itself and interpreting of poetry. The word “must” shows his determined idea and the present continuous tense indicates it is ongoing and everlasting process like the flowing of river. In the last stanza, the poet puts another emphasis on readers’ participation in creating poetry by interpreting it in different ways. “The blackbird” still sat in the cedar-limbs. But he goes so far to mention the subversive funding of reading, because he says, “It was evening all afternoon.” The interplay of poet, poetry and readers are dealt with in poems, say, Study of Two Pears, Of Modern Poetry, and Metaphors of a Magnifico and so on. In these poems he imposes idea of “active mind”. This active mind, he preaches, should not only be

possessed by poets but also by readers. By involving readers in the creation of poetry, he insists, there could be more possibilities. No change, for him, means no life. “Death is the mother of beauty” ( Sunday Morning ) is the conclusion of his concept on recycling of life. With the involvement of readers in creation, poetry becomes active, being embodied new lives and becomes immortal. The life of poetry lies in this. Reader-response criticism is an approach appeared in 1970s.But Stevens could foresee reader’s function in creation of poetry decades ahead. It shows his foresight and penetrating insight. His poetry is a live text of aesthetics.

In conclusion, Modern features of Stevens’s poetry are not only revealed in the theme, technic and language, but also in his view on readers’ response. No matter if it is the radical movement and literary trend of his age gave him influence, his efforts in renovating poetry to fit Modern time and his ideas on the relationship between poet, poetry and readers embody literature with perpetual life. He is a poet of the time. Works Cited Ellmann, Richard and O’Clair, Robert. The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry.New York: W.W. Norton & Company.INC/ Hilkovitz, Andrea. http:// www.ruf.rice.edu/~ wamorris/ Engl 499.html Juhasz, Suzanne. Metaphor and the Poetry of Williams, Pound, and Stevens. Lewisburg:Bucknell University Press, 1974. Moore, Marianne. “Unanimity and Fortitude” (Poetry. Vol.49, no.5, February 1937,26872). The Critical Heritage: Wallace Stevens, edited by Charles Doyle. London and New York: Routledge, 1997. Pearl, Karin. http:// www.ruf.rice.edu/~ wamorris/ Engl 499.html

His repercussive harmonics, set off by the small compass of the poem, ‘prove’ mathematically to admiration, and suggest a linguist creating several languages within a single language. Metaphors of a Magnifico Wallace Stevens Twenty men crossing a bridge, Into a village, Are twenty men crossing twenty bridges, Into twenty villages, Or one man Crossing a single bridge into a village. This is old song That will not declare itself . . . Twenty men crossing a bridge,

Into a village, Are Twenty men crossing a bridge Into a village. That will not declare itself Yet is certain as meaning . . . The boots of the men clump On the boards of the bridge. The first white wall of the village Rises through fruit-trees. Of what was it I was thinking? So the meaning escapes. The first white wall of the village . . . The fruit-trees . . .

From Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens by Wallace Stevens. Copyright © 1954 by Wallace Stevens. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

The problem of Modernism's negations (especially Cubist negations) is again the subject of "Study of Two Pairs," whose title clearly invokes visual arts. The concerns of the body of the poem -

helps him in some way to construct New poetry. Janet Wallace Stevens Revisited: The Celestial Possible Twayne Publishers, 1995.


The mutability ma"Sunday Morning" is Stevens' most eloquent description of the moment when the gods dissolve. Bereft of the supernatural, man does not lie down paralyzed in despair.

Hilkovitz (Engl 499) argued that Modern poem is first and foremost the poem of the mind. In contrast to the unchanging nature of past poetry, modern poetry must be alive

and changing. He believes the transience of life. But he does not attempt to put his emphasis on the Trivial matters become the subject of his. Sunday Morning is about a discursive life of a metropolis woman on Sunday morning. At the beginning of the poem, the protagonist, being content, is in a dreamy state: Complacencies of the peignoir, and late Coffee and oranges in a sunny chair, And the green freedom of a cockatoo Upon a rug mingle to dissipate The holy hush of ancient sacrifice. She dreams a little, and she feels the dark Encroachment of the old catastrophe, As a calm darkens among water-lights. The pungent oranges and bright, green wings Seem things in some procession of the dead, Winding across wide water, without sound. The day is like wide water, without sound. Stilled fro the passing of her dreaming feet Over the seas, to silent Palestine, Dominion of the blood and sepulcher. Everything is in a state of stasis. It seems that time suspends. The only movement that we can feel is the movement of her mind. III. His view on reader’s response is another fundamental feature of his poetry. The various color images suggest us the function of creativity and imagination. Different observers could have different interpretation. Above all, this poem could be viewed as a Cubist painting not only because “the title invokes visual art” but also because As does Cubist painting, the poem suggests both a struggle to see reality as it is and to create and imaginative reality.”( )

Study of Two Pears - by Wallace Stevens 1 Opusculum paedagogum.* The pears are not viols,

Nudes or bottles. They resemble nothing else. 2 They are yellow forms Composed of curves Bulging toward the base. They are touched red. 3 They are not flat surfaces Having curved outlines They are round Tapering toward the top. 4 In the way they are modelled There are bits of blue. A hard dry leaf hangs from the stem. 5 The yellow glistens. It glistens with various yellows, Citrons, oranges and greens flowering over the skin. 6 The shadows of the pears Are blobs on the green cloth. The pears are not seen As the observer wills.

I am a huge fan of Luca Turin. Well-known to most perfume bloggers, Turin is a fragrance designer and biophysicist at Flexitral, a company that manufactures aroma molecules. He is also the subject of the excellent Chandler Burr book The Emperor of Scent: A True Story of Perfume and Obsession . Reading Burr's book was one of the things that really turned me on to the wide world of perfumes. By "wide" I mean the perfumes beyond the borders of what I thought I could like. Turin is particularly talented at describing fragrances and aromas with elegance and wit, which is one of the reasons his perfume reviews are so adored by fans of perfume. (Turin writes a monthly column for Swiss magazine NZZ Folio and is also working on a new book of perfume reviews with co-author Tania Sanchez.)

When I first read Emperor a few years ago, I already had in my possession a small bottle of Annick Goutal's beautiful Petite Cherie, which to me smelled of a balmy, breezy morning in a grassy field. The grass green notes intrigued me and always made me feel like I was wandering in a freshly-mown meadow. It is easy to imagine oneself dozing on a soft quilt under a shady willow when wearing this fragrance, and as the fragrance develops on the skin, it gets easier and easier to imagine all sorts of naked frolicking on that quilt. But it wasn't until I read Emperor of Scent that I realized the faintly sweet undertone to what I had been smelling was actually a pronounced overtone: pear. Turin, via Burr, describes Petite Cherie as "a lovely super-pear" and goes on to explain that: Goutal chose from pears (at least 150 molecules make the subtle difference between the scent of a William pear and other varieties; Goutal keeps this molecule secret).... And then Petite Cherie has natural vanilla from the island of Reunion, several natural peach molecules, and natural cut grass, which is to say the molecule that you get the second after you cut the grass but which disappears immediately. (p. 249) Really, I had no idea one pear smelled different from another, and until it was pointed out to me in the book, I didn't even realize that pear was one of the main reasons I loved Petite Cherie but there it was, plain as could be once I knew what I was smelling. This experience is what led me to try my own hand at writing perfume reviews (primarily on Makeupalley.com) and I soon found that my ability to write was seriously limited by my ability to discern smells. I've never been one of those people that could pick the "hint of oak" out in a bottle of wine and I certainly can't tell the difference between the smell of different varieties of the same fruit. I can taste them, but that doesn't always help when thinking of perfumes. I came to the conclusion that where other writers can eloquently and accurately describe "smoke and resin accords that oscillate between dark roasted lapsang suchong and rubber"** I smell "creamy darkness" in Bulgari Black. I think my sense of smell is more visual - I have no idea what I'm smelling but I can often associate it with a memory. Perfumes are particularly atmospheric for me. And so, though Luca Turin argues in his most recent book, The Secret of Scent, that fragrances are not about memory, I have to disagree. I think fragrances are about imagination, and memory is an integral part of fantasy. All this is to say that Wallace Stevens is exactly right - pears are not nudes or bottles, they resemble nothing else. But describing the scent of a pear is completely impossible except by metaphor and analogy. Like stanza five, the yellow pear of Petite Cherie glistens and flowers over the skin but in another, less elegant formulation (or to a less sensitive nose) the pears could simply amount to blobs on a green cloth. You won't see or smell or taste pear the way I do, which is why it could evoke for one person a breeze through a willow tree and for another, it might be the essence of "eating peaches on the Black Sea beach" ** with one's grandfather.

Even from one pear to the next, there will be surprise. Try Jean Patou's Sira des Indes, a visually gorgeous gourmand fragrance the color of a ripe apricots which smells both classy and dirty. Sira is only distantly related to Cherie, and each gains it's own life on the skin - these are not pears as you thought you understood pears. This is the imaginative genius of the perfumer. *In the first line of the poem, Opusculum Paedagogum refers to "a little work that teaches." ** Description of Bulgari Black and Petite Cherie by Victoria of Boisdejasmin. A few of the many fragrances featuring pear: Annick Goutal - Petite Cherie Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab - Titania Chopard - Wish Pink Diamond Comme des Garcons - Series 8: Guerilla 1 Comptoir Sud Pacifique - Vanille Pitahaya Jean Patou - Sira des Indes Miller et Bertaux - Close Your Eyes And...(Bois de Gaiac et Poire) Miller Harris - Coeur d'Ete Robert Piguet - Visa Tocca - Florence Victoria's Secret - Pear Glace Voluspa - Golden Pear Palo Santo (Autumn) candle Yosh Han - U4EAHH! 2.43 Poem: "Study of Two Pears" by Wallace Stevens. From A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry. Edited by Czeslaw Milosz. Harcourt Brace & Company, 1996. pp. 64-65. Image: "Birne" by Man Ray. Via Art.com

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