"The earth, for us, is lat and bare. / . . . Poetry // Exceeding music must take the place / Of empty heaven and its hymns. . . ." Such claims saturate Wallace Stevens's work: poetry, Stevens affirms and reaffirms, is a potential source of value in a secular world. his essay tracks his attempts to realize this potential-to write a poem that would satisfy his metaphysical need. His work is relentlessly self-critical and experimental, and over his career he develops extravagant (and ultimately hermetic) responses to a stubborn philosophical problem. My aim is to reframe critical approaches to a central topic in Stevens's poetry and to reevaluate his relation to philosophy. In the process, I hope to suggest answers to more general questions: What is experimental poetry? How do poets think in verse? Why do poets write difficult poems? What makes a poem difficult in the first place?.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Language and Linguistics
- Linguistics and Language
- Literature and Literary Theory