Cambridge, Massachusetts U.
He was a master stylist, employing an extraordinary vocabulary and a rigorous precision in crafting his poems. But he was also a philosopher of aesthetics, vigorously exploring the notion of poetry as the supreme fusion of the creative imagination and objective reality.
Because of the extreme technical and thematic complexity of his work, Stevens was sometimes considered a willfully difficult poet.
But he was also acknowledged as an eminent abstractionist and a provocative thinker, and that reputation has continued since his death. In Teaching wallace stevens practical essays, for instance, noted literary critic Harold Bloom, whose writings on Stevens include the imposing Wallace Stevens: The Poems of Our Climate, called him "the best and most representative American poet of our time.
His family belonged to the Dutch Reformed Church and when Teaching wallace stevens practical essays became eligible he enrolled in parochial schools. At age twelve Stevens entered public school for boys and began studying classics in Greek and Latin.
In high school he became a prominent student, scoring high marks and distinguishing himself as a skillful orator. Encouraged by his father, Stevens devoted himself to the literary aspects of Harvard life. By his sophomore year he wrote regularly for the Harvard Advocate, and by the end of his third year, as biographer Samuel French Morse noted in Wallace Stevens: By that time Stevens had already published poems in both the Advocate and the Monthly, and as editor he additionally produced stories and literary sketches.
Because there was a frequent shortage of manuscript during his tenure as editor, Stevens often published several of his own works in each issue of the Monthly. He thus gained further recognition on campus as a prolific and multi-talented writer.
Unfortunately, his campus literary endeavors ended in when a shortage of family funds necessitated his withdrawal from the university.
Once out of Harvard, Stevens decided to work as a journalist, and shortly thereafter he began reporting for the New York Evening Post. He published regularly in the newspaper, but he found the work dull and inconsequential. The job proved most worthwhile as a means for Stevens to acquaint himself with New York City.
Each day he explored various areas and then recorded his observations in a journal.
In the evenings he either attended theatrical and musical productions or remained in his room writing poems or drafting a play. Stevens soon tired of this life, however, and questioned his father on the possibility of abandoning the newspaper position to entirely devote himself to literature.
But his father, while a lover of literature, was also prudent, and he counseled his son to cease writing and commence law studies. Two years later Stevens graduated, and in he was admitted to the New York Bar. He then worked briefly in a law partnership with former Harvard classmate Lyman Ward.
In he accepted a post with the American Bonding Company, an insurance firm, and he stayed with the company when it was purchased by the Fidelity and Deposit Company.
Financially secure, he proposed marriage to Elsie Viola Kachel, who accepted and became his wife in September, Of keen interest to Stevens at this time were the art exhibitions at the many museums and galleries in the city.
He developed a fondness for modern painting, eventually becoming a connoisseur and collector of Asian art, including painting, pottery, and jewelry. He particularly admired Asian works for their vivid colors and their precision and clarity, qualities that he later imparted to his own art.
By Stevens was enjoying great success in the field of insurance law. Unlike many aspiring artists, however, he was hardly stifled by steady employment. He soon resumed writing poetry, though in a letter to his wife he confided that writing was "absurd" as well as fulfilling.
After he began publishing his poems Stevens changed jobs again, becoming resident vice-president, in New York City, of the Equitable Surety Company which, in turn, became the New England Equitable Company.
He left that position in to work for the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company, where he remained employed for the rest of his life, becoming vice-president in This period of job changes was also one of impressive literary achievements for Stevens. In he produced his first important poems, " Peter Quince at the Clavier " and " Sunday Morning ," and in he published his prize-winning play, Three Travelers Watch a Sunrise.
Another play, Carlos among the Candles, followed inand the comic poem " Le Monocle de Mon Oncle " appeared in During the next few years Stevens began organizing his poems for publication in a single volume.
For inclusion in that prospective volume he also produced several longer poems, including the masterful "Comedian as the Letter C. Here Stevens echoes the theme of "Peter Quince at the Clavier" by writing that "death is the mother of beauty," thus confirming that physical beauty is immortal through death and the consequent consummation with nature.
In her volume Wallace Stevens: An Introduction to the Poetry, Susan B.
Weston perceived the replacement of Christianity with nature as the essence of the poem, and she called "Sunday Morning" the "revelation of a secular religion.
He reflects on his own loves and ambitions in such carefree detail that the work seems an amusing alternative to T. During the course of his adventures Crispin evolves from romantic to realist and from poet to parent, the latter two roles being, according to the poem, mutually antagonistic.A chapter of the book "Teaching Wallace Stevens: Practical Essays," which discusses strategies for teaching works of poet Wallace Stevens, is presented.
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Serio, John N., Teaching Wallace Stevens: Practical Essays, University of Tennessee Press (Knoxville), Sexson, Michael, The Quest of Self in the Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens.
This is a web version of a previously published paper that was first presented in the symposium “The Historical Impact of Ornithology on the Biological Sciences” organized by Paul L.
Farber at the 19th International Ornithological Congress in Ottawa.