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Wallace Stevens Of Modern Poetry Analysis Essay

Bates, Milton J. Wallace Stevens: A Mythology of Self. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.

Bloom, Harold. Wallace Stevens. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2003.

Cleghorn, Angus J. Wallace Stevens’ Poetics: The Neglected Rhetoric. New York: Palgrave, 2000.

Critchley, Simon. Things Merely Are: Philosophy in the Poetry of Wallace Stevens. New York: Routledge, 2005.

Ford, Sara J. Gertrude Stein and Wallace Stevens: The Performance of Modern Consciousness. New York: Routledge, 2002.

Leggett, B. J. Late Stevens: The Final Fiction. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2005.

Morse, Samuel F. Wallace Stevens: Poetry as Life. New York: Pegasus, 1970.

Santilli, Kristine S. Poetic Gesture: Myth, Wallace Stevens, and the Motions of Poetic Language. New York: Routledge, 2002.

Sharpe, Tony. Wallace Stevens: A Literary Life. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000.

One of the most frequently anthologized of Stevens’s poems, “Of Modern Poetry” is another work that attempts to define art for a fragmented world in constant flux. Poetry is now a search, whereas it used to be a method. In the past, “the scene was set; it repeated what/ Was in the script.” That is, convention and tradition defined poetry, and each poem was a modification of a pattern. Now, Stevens says, the conventions no longer apply.

The poem must reflect the world, speak its speech; it must “face the men of the time and . . . meet/ The women of the time.” War, the contemporary state of affairs, must have a part in it. Most important, it must find “what will suffice,” a phrase repeated twice in the poem. The search for “what will suffice” amounts to a search for satisfaction, a solace for the mind’s pain of isolation. It must, in fact, express the mind to itself, so that it becomes the internal made visible. The actor must speak words that “in the delicatest ear of the mind” repeat what it desires to hear.

The imagery so far has been of the theater, but when the method of this new poetry is described, philosophy and music are interwoven with theater images to give the impression of an art that is plastic and fluid. The actor becomes “a metaphysician in the dark,” suggesting a thinker concerned with first and final causes but lacking the light of any received structure for his meditations. He is, moreover,...

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