Wallace Stevens Poems

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Wallace Stevens
Wallace Stevens (October 2, 1879 August 2, 1955) was a major American Modernist poet. He was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, and spent most of his adult life working for an insurance company in Connecticut. His most famous poem is "The Emperor of Ice Cream," which has been anthologized numerous times. Stevens attended Harvard as a non-degree special student, after which he moved to New York City and briefly worked as a journalist. He then attended New York Law School, graduating in 1903. On a trip back to Reading in 1904 Stevens met Elsie Viola Rachel; after a long courtship, he married her in 1909. In 1913, the young couple rented a New York City apartment from sculptor Adolph A. Weinman, who made a bust of Elsie. (Her striking profile was later used on Weinman's 1916-1945 Mercury dime design and possibly for the head of the Walking Liberty Half Dollar.) A daughter, Holly, was born in 1924. She later edited her father's letters and a collection of his poems. The marriage reputedly became increasingly distant, but the Stevenses never divorced. 1936 Winged Liberty Head (Mercury) dimeAfter working for several New York law firms from 1904 to 1907, Stevens was hired on January 13, 1908 as a lawyer for the American Bonding Company. By 1914 he had become the vice-president of the New York Office of the Equitable Surety Company of St. Louis, Missouri. When this job was abolished as a result of mergers in 1916, he joined the home office of Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company and left New York City to live in Hartford, where he would remain the rest of his life. By 1934, he had been named vice president of the company. After he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1955, he was offered a faculty position at Harvard, but declined since it would have required him to give up his vice presidency of The Hartford. In the 1930s and 1940s, he was welcomed as a member of the exclusive set centered on the artistic and literary devotees Barbara and Henry Church. Stevens was baptized a Catholic in April 1955 by Fr. Arthur Hanley, chaplain of St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut, where he spent his last days suffering from terminal cancer. This purported deathbed conversion is disputed, particularly by Steven's daughter, Holly. After a brief release from the hospital, Stevens was readmitted and died on August 2, 1955 at the age of 75. Stevens is a rare example of a poet whose main output came at a fairly advanced age. His first major publication (four poems from a sequence entitled "Phases" in the November 1914 edition of Poetry Magazine) was written at the age of thirty-five, although as an undergraduate at Harvard Stevens had written poetry and exchanged sonnets with George Santayana, with whom he was close through much of his life. Many of his canonical works were written well after he turned fifty. According to the literary critic Harold Bloom, no Western writer since Sophocles has had such a late flowering of artistic genius.

the house was quiet and the world was calm
The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night
W... [read poem]
grown about by fragrant bushes
Grown about by fragrant bushes,
Sunken in a winding valley,
Where the clear winds blow... [read poem]
Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly di... [read poem]
looking forward
When I am grown to man's estate
I shall be very proud and great,
And tell the other girls and boys
Not to meddle with my toys.
Though he, that ever kind and true,
Kept stoutly step by step with you,
Your whole long, g... [read poem]
the sheep-child
Farm boys wild to couple
With anything with soft-wooded trees
With mounds of earth... [read poem]
windy nights
Whenever the moon and stars are set,
Whenever the wind is high,
All night long in the ... [read poem]
the heaven of animals
Here they are. The soft eyes open.
If they have lived in a wood
It is a wood.
If the... [read poem]
the comedian as the letter c
Nota: man is the intelligence of his soil,
The sovereign ghost. As such, the Socrates
Of s... [read poem]
fifteen men on the dead man's chest
Fifteen men on the Dead Man's Chest --
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the de... [read poem]
sing me a song of a lad that is gone
Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say, could that lad be I?
Merry of soul he saile... [read poem]
to any reader
As from the house your mother sees
You playing round the garden trees,
So you may see, if ... [read poem]
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