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Wallace Stevens : Collected Poetry and Prose (Library of America) Hardcover – October 1, 1997
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Top Customer Reviews
Over his lifetime, Stevens wrote several books of poetry, but his exquisite poems are best taken by themselves: the lush grandeur of "Sunday Morning," the hymnlike "Le Monocle De Mon Oncle," and the humid grittiness of "O Florida, Venereal Soil." He takes multiple looks at "Thirteen Ways of Looking At A Blackbird," and the lush "Six Significant Landscapes."
In other poems, Stevens dips into outright surrealism, like in the delicate "Tattoo" ("There are filaments of your eyes/On the surface of the water/And in the edges of the snow"), and also adds a meditative bent into "The Snow Man" ("For the listener, who listens in the snow,/And, nothing himself, beholds/Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is").
But Stevens was a man of many talents -- there is a trio of one-act plays, erudite and a bit whimsical, and which have his usual thoughts on art and poetry woven into some of their passages. It is followed by the essay collection "The Necessary Angel," which reflects on the nature of imagination, poetry, art, and the role of the poet in a society. His "uncollected" prose is not so tight -- there are literary experiments, snippets of atmospheric fiction, and sprawling essays on all sorts of subjects ("Cattle Kings of Florida"?). Even included are acceptance speeches and sound bites, like an enlightening little nugget on Walt Whitman.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
This is an edition of verse and prose that I will treasure for a long time.
Stevens is difficult for several other reasons. First, he uses language differently. The images he uses and creates are not the point of his work. Rather, they are a means of connotation and require some digging and wrestling. It is the accretion of direct and attached meaning that gives his poetry its full weight. Second, at times there is no direct meaning - it is about the sound and the sense of an image without actually being able to label it. For example, what exactly is a firecat or a buck clattering over Oklahoma? You think you know, but once you start asking yourself for a definition you can't find one. You can make it up, but what is the point? It is really the sound and sense of meaning that matters here. Also, he does have a cultural context that we assume is current enough that we share it with him. Actually, it is a time with certain assumptions and intellectual fads that have passed without a trace. Not being aware of them can add an unnecessary obscurity.
But it is all worth it.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
my favorite poet! If you read commentaries published in the past couple of decades, they use the page numbers in this addition.Published 4 months ago by Publius
I will leave it to others to extoll the substance of Wallace Steven's poetry and prose. If you are looking of a standard edition of Steven's works, this Library of America edition... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Montana Skyline
Reviews of this book are difficult: Stevens' is paradigmatic of high modernism and has many of the problems of the time period. Read morePublished 6 months ago by C. D. Varn
Book in perfect condition. Very good service, expedient, and as offered.Published 10 months ago by Francisco Mariategui
This LOA volume is the comprehensive and accurate words of the Poet.
And only from this Poet, as it should be ; no intrusive editing or flunky introductions. Read more
Wallace Stevens is one of my favorite poets. It's so nice to be able to pick up this volume and read a random poem to get my mind questioning again and feeling the sparkle from his... Read morePublished on April 25, 2013 by Alice Shapiro
No wonder Marianne Moore wrote those lines. Actually I love poetry, poetry written from the eyes to be sure, but mostly from the lyrical intellect inspired by the loins and the... Read morePublished on December 31, 2012 by Panayoti Kelaidis