Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “Wallace Stevens”

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.

American Rhyme and Reason

Walt Whitman's use of free verse became apprec...

Walt Whitman’s use of free verse became appreciated by composers seeking a more fluid approach to setting text. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In researching  material for upcoming National Poetry Month posts I came across an article which got me thinking on a couple of different levels.

First of all, how is it possible to narrow the immense possibilities to ten?

Secondly, the article is written from a British standpoint–is that observation, compliment, or review?

After perusing the list I find myself nodding to a couple of the choices, being perplexed at a one or two, and adding the others to my “must read.”

What are your votes and opinions?  Would you name these as “The 10 best American poems”? (click on “article” and read the reason and rhyme of each mentioned)

1.  “Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman

2.  “The Idea of Order at Key West” by Wallace Stevens

3.  “Because I could not stop for death” by Emily Dickinson

4. “Directive” by Robert Frost

5. “Middle Passage” by Robert Hayden

6. “The Dry Salvages” by T.S. Eliot

7. “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop

8. “To My Dear and Loving Husband” by Ann Bradstreet

9. “Memories of West Street and Lepke” by Robert Lowell

10.  “And Ut Pictura Poesis Is Her Name” by John Ashberry

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