The poetic work of Wallace stevens falls under the category of modernist poetry. Modernist poetry entails the poetic work written more prominently in North America and Europe between 1890 and 1950 in modernist literature. The dates of modernist poetry vary based on various factors, such as the question, nation of origin, and criteria used in the setting of the dates (Hühn 320). The aspect of the modernity of poetry has been in progress for a long time. The modernist theory begum with the french symbolist movement, and artificially ended with the second world war. The ending and the beginning of the period are arbitrary.
Among the significant poets of the period include Wallace stevens. The poet lived between the years 1897 and 1955. He was an American modernist poet who won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for the collection of poetry in 1955. His first period of writing commenced with the publication of his collection, the harmonium in 1923. The first period was followed by a slightly revised and amended the second edition in 1930. His second period happened eleven years following the publication of his transport to summer. His third and final period occurred with the publication of the auroras of autumn in the early 1950s. He then released a collection of his poems in 1955 before his death in the same year. Through the contributions of the poet in modernist poetry, the author uses imagery to depict and facilitate the comparison of phenomena and various issues. The imagery used by the poet is essential in promoting and relaying of messages through interesting comparisons and representations.
Poems of Wallace Stevens
Thirteen Ways of Looking at A Blackbird
Thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird use the analogy of a blackbird to describe the relations between nature, humankind, and emotions. The beginning of the poem is characterized by several short stanzas, which identifies the blackbird as an essential component of the universe. The characteristics of the blackbird are presented as surpassing those of other birds in the snow. Additionally, it is presented as standing as a muse for the speaker and one that exists in various forms throughout the poem (Alfred, Knopf, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at A Blackbird”). Moreover, it is depicted for more than its simple physiology. The depiction of the bird exposes various characteristics, including beauty, eccentricities, and allusions that sets it apart from the rest of the creatures. The poem ends with the return of the speaker to a snowy day from where he can have a view of the landscape to view his muse and guardian. The poet points out that the blackbird sat in the cedar-limbs (Alfre). It is also presented with the sight of a cedar tree looking over his home.
The bird represents a force on which the speaker can depend, as it would always be present in one way or another to watch over him. The thirteen-stanza poem is subdivided into several sections, and the stanzas separated by roman numerals. The subdivisions fulfill the titles of the poem, thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird. The poem is mainly influenced by imagism and provides a perfect analogy of the role of linguistic in the work of Wallace stevens.
The Idea of Order at Key West
The poem, the idea of order at key west, is a philosophical poem representing the creative power of the human mind. Through the poem, the narrator elaborates on his experiences from listening to a woman singing on the Florida beach where the narrator claims that “she sang beyond the genius of the tree” (Alfred, Knopf., “The Idea of Order at Key West”). The speaker explains that the song of the women resulted in a deep reflection regarding what it takes to be an artist, specifically a poet, a singer, or any other kind of artist. The deliberation sought to determine the influence that art has on how the human mind is ordered, specifically the determination of how the world is ordered in mind.
The poem uses imagery to provide more elaborate details. The poet uses the woman facing the sea as a symbolic encounter between nature and humanity. The poem’s speaker ponders to what extent the sea serves as the inspiration or source for the woman’s song, and to what extent artists are capable of creating, redefining, or mastering the natural world around themselves. The poem presents an interpretation of the various ways through which artists powerfully transform and alter how their audience envision the world and their surroundings. The drama is based on the mind of the narrator. It entails the right to determine how the song of the woman relates to the sea. The realization is that the narrator is overwhelmed by a supernatural experience in which both the town and the harbor appear more beautiful.
Of Mere Being
The poem describes the last thoughts of an individual. It addresses the elemental purity of existence. The instigate part of the poem clearly shows the speaker representing a scene beyond the existing knowledge of an individual. The presentation of the poem is that it is at the end of the mind, holding a palm tree with a sun rising behind it. The analogy of the scene provides a representation of both the end and the beginning of life. It represents the force that acts as the emerging point of all things. The poem also depicts the presence of a phoenix bird. The bird represents the rebirth of an individual, and the intrinsic composition of every factor from conceptualized birth to death (Britto). The end of the poem illustrates that the palm stands on the edge of space.
The poem elaborates that happiness and unhappiness are not caused by an “it.” It explains that both happiness and unhappiness exist within the world. They are both universal and goes beyond life and death. At the end of the poem, the speaker again notices the palm tree, the bird, and the wind. The factors stand as guards after all elements. The four-stanza poem has two most famous images, including the tree and phoenix. They depict the pictures of the poet at the end of life and the end of the mind. Through the visions of the bronze backed palm trees and flaming birds, the poet created the image of the mere being of life. Due to the characteristic of the phoenix of being able to burst into flames, it represents the end of life.
Analysis of the Poems
The pieces of poetry, as presented by the poet, significantly presents the use of imagery. Imagery entails the use of figurative language or images in literary pieces. In essence, through using imagery, the poet uses various items and elements to provide information regarding different aspects (Krasnowolska 109). The usage of imagery in the poems is essential as the poet attempts to create sensory appeal to the readers and the audience of the poems. These appeals include visual appeal, tactile, gustatory, auditory, and olfactory. It mainly involves the use of visual appeals to determine comparisons between the various elements of nature and the different aspects of humanity and human nature.
The three poems by the poet Wallace stevens present a central theme of humanity. The poet uses imagery to provide an elaborate analogy of various factors regarding the fundamental aspects of humanity. For instance, the theme of human life, from birth to death, is highly evident in the poetic work. The representation, as used by the poet, strictly relies on the use of natural elements and phenomena of nature to represent an analogy of human factors. Additionally, there is the fact that the poet is significantly inspired by nature and the connection that nature has with humanity. The usage of imagery, as presented in the various poems, is essential in creating the stories in the multiple works of poetry. Humanity, life, death, emotions, and sensory appeal form a significant part of the storylines of the poems as presented by the poet. The poet, however, does not directly convey the stories in the poems. However, the poet uses the aspect of imagery to convey the storylines of the various poems and the different elements that the poems portray.
Alfred, Knopf. “The Idea Of Order At Key West By Wallace Stevens – Poems | Poets.Org”. Poets.Org, https://poets.org/poem/idea-order-key-west.
Alfred, Knopf. ” Thirteen Ways of Looking at A Blackbird By Wallace Stevens – Poems | Poets.Org”. Poets.Org, https://poets.org/poem/idea-order-key-west
Britto, Paulo Henriques. The Retranslation of Wallace Stevens’ “Of Mere Being. 2017, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/333528634_The_retranslation_of_Wallace_Stevens’_Of_mere_being. Accessed 24 Apr 2020.
Hühn, Peter. “The Eventfulness of Non-Events in Modernist Poetry: TS Eliot’s The Waste Land and Bertolt Brecht’s “Vom armen BB”.” Frontiers of Narrative Studies 3.2 (2017): 319-335.
Krasnowolska, Anna. “The Epic roots of lyrical imagery in classical Persian poetry.” Ghazal as World Literature II From a Literary Genre to a Great Tradition The Ottoman Gazel in Context (2016): 109.