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Opus Posthumous: Poems, Plays, Prose Paperback – February 19, 1990

4.5 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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  • Opus Posthumous: Poems, Plays, Prose
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Intended as a companion volume to Stevens's Collected Poems , the Opus Posthumous miscellany (first issued in 1957) contains some of his deepest poetic ruminations on the imagination and the limits of knowledge, along with many verses that seem like metaphysical doodles, mere dress rehearsals for larger poems. The book also includes three philosophical playlets, notes on Stevens's poetry, plus essays on diverse themes: living in Connecticut, the irrational in poetry, Raoul Dufy's lithographs, reading T. S. Eliot to stay young, etc. Original to this revised edition is a wonderful batch of first-rate aphorisms (e.g., "All poetry is experimental poetry"). Among the newly added poems, the standout is "Carnet de Voyage" (1914), an early sequence in which Stevens tentatively sounded his mature themes. Previously uncollected essays and jottings include jejune scribbling on the insurance industry and oracular pronouncements in the form of Stevens's replies to questionnaires sent by Partisan Review and other magazines. Bates is the author of Wallace Stevens: A Mythology of Self.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Originally published in 1957, under the editorship of Samuel French Morse, Opus Posthumous was designed as a companion to Stevens's Collected Poems (1954), offering the reader various fugitive pieces not appearing in book form. This new edition by Stevens scholar Bates contains 48 items that have never been previously published--or that appear here in a radically new form. These new items include poetry, drama, aphorisms, essays, and even responses to questionnaires. Thus, Bates's edition of Opus Posthumous represents a significant addition to the Stevens canon, one that restores the unofficial poet "who engages today's biographers and historians." To read the beautiful pages of this book is to understand why "poetry is a means of redemption." Required of all larger poetry collections.
- Daniel L. Guillory, Millikin Univ., Decatur, Ill.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Revised edition (February 19, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679725342
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679725343
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,066,071 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This collection lacks 22 poems which appeared in "The Palm at the End of the Mind", Holly Stevens carefully edited selection highly approved of by Harold Bloom. Missing are "Of Mere Being", "A Child Asleep in Its Own Life" and "For an Old Woman in a Wig" to name but three. It leaves out the added lines of "The Man Whose Pharynx Was Bad". It lacks an index of first lines. If you're going to buy a book of Stevens' poems spend the extra $10 and get the magnificent Library of America "Collected Poetry and Prose" which contains EVERYTHING, is a huge bargain and will keep you occupied for the rest of your life. Or possibly get Holly Stevens "The Palm at the End of the Mind" which eliminates a lot of lesser poems which could confuse a newcomer to Stevens. The Vintage people have thrown this together without much thought. It's better than nothing, but the other two books I have named are the one's to get.
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Format: Paperback
Wallace Stevens is my favorite poet. This collection was prepared late in his life and is in a sense definitive, though the excellent Library of America collection is to be preferred as including a number of additional 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.
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Format: Paperback
"Her terrace was the sand/And the palms and the twilight" -- and those are only the first two lines. Dipping into surrealism and imbued with spirituality, his poetry is compiled into "The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens," which includes seven compilations of his work.

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").

If nothing else, Stevens' poetry can be read just because it is exquisitely beautiful. He lavished details all over almost every poem he wrote, and gave many of them the quality of a dream. His descriptions are simply written, but brilliantly laid out: "When my dream was near the moon,/The white folds of its gown/Filled with yellow light."

His style tends to be a bit on the ornate side -- Stevens freely uses the more exotic terms -- such as "opalescence," "pendentives" and "muleteers" -- wrapped up in complex verse, sometimes with a rhyme scheme and sometimes free-form. And lush detail is added to many of his poems, with descriptions of the moon, sun, plants and lighting, along with dazzling descriptions of the colors.

But his writing is more than beautiful.
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By A Customer on January 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
Stevens is a quirky and imaginative poet with a taste for unusual diction, a fluidity of ideas and an unerring instinct for the haunting and intriguing. The poems are meditational in their completeness and memorability and present a more delightful and pleasurable style of Modernism than the other 'greats' of the period such as T S Eliot or Ezra Pound. His attempts to create a 'Supreme Fiction' can at times be baffling, but there is a richness of pure self-indulgence in the poetry which means that it is immediately compulsive and a book which several of my friends agree is 'essential' to any poetry collection, whether its concern be with Poetry at its literary finest or with the langorous pleasure of 'the green freedom of a cockatoo...'and inspirational dream-like meditations. Treat yourself!
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