Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Poet Appreciation #9: Wallace Stevens

World War I affected the world in a way that changed forever our outlook on life. Losing 50,000 young men in one day alone, is a travesty of waste. Lost lives, lost dreams, lost generations have a profound impact. One section of the world culture which was touched was that of the artist in all forms. In poetry, the Modernist movement began with its focus on looking at how this brave new world affects us. T.S. Eliot is most frequented with modernist poetry with his offerings such as The Wasteland and The Lovesong ofJ. AlfredPrufrock.

Wallace Stevens

Another poet of that time, Wallace Stevens, is as important as Eliot in his contributions to Modernist poetry, although Eliot seems to pop up first in Modernist contribution conversations. Bio facts of note for Wallace:

  • didn’t get published until he 44
  • attended Harvard, but had to leave due to lack of funds
  • Editor for both of Harvard’s publications
  • His wife the model for the Liberty dime and half-dollar
  • Career primarily as an insurance lawyer
  • Won the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award
  • His poetry collection, Harmonium, ignored by critics when first published, is now highly regarded
  • His home town of Hartford, Connecticut has a walk devoted to his blackbird poem with signs of each section along the way
  • Connoisseur of Asian art

Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock

The houses are haunted
By white night-gowns.
None are green,
Or purple with green rings,
Or green with yellow rings,
Or yellow with blue rings.
None of them are strange,
With socks of lace
And beaded ceintures.
People are not going
To dream of baboons and periwinkles.
Only, here and there, an old sailor,
Drunk and asleep in his boots,
Catches Tigers
In red weather.

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4 thoughts on “Poet Appreciation #9: Wallace Stevens

  1. A late bloomer–I like that and the poem.

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