The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens (Anglais) Broché – 19 février 1990
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Descriptions du produit
One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;
And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter
Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,
Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place
For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.
Présentation de l'éditeur
- "Ideas of Order"
- "The Man With the Blue Guitar"
- "Parts of the World"
- "Transport Summer"
- "The Auroras of Autumn"
- "The Rock"
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Over his lifetime, Stevens wrote several books of poetry, but his exquisite poems are best taken by themselves: the lush grandeur of "Sunday Morning," the hymnlike "Le Monocle De Mon Oncle," and the humid grittiness of "O Florida, Venereal Soil." He takes multiple looks at "Thirteen Ways of Looking At A Blackbird," and the lush "Six Significant Landscapes."
In other poems, Stevens dips into outright surrealism, like in the delicate "Tattoo" ("There are filaments of your eyes/On the surface of the water/And in the edges of the snow"), and also adds a meditative bent into "The Snow Man" ("For the listener, who listens in the snow,/And, nothing himself, beholds/Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is").
If nothing else, Stevens' poetry can be read just because it is exquisitely beautiful. He lavished details all over almost every poem he wrote, and gave many of them the quality of a dream. His descriptions are simply written, but brilliantly laid out: "When my dream was near the moon,/The white folds of its gown/Filled with yellow light."
His style tends to be a bit on the ornate side -- Stevens freely uses the more exotic terms -- such as "opalescence," "pendentives" and "muleteers" -- wrapped up in complex verse, sometimes with a rhyme scheme and sometimes free-form. And lush detail is added to many of his poems, with descriptions of the moon, sun, plants and lighting, along with dazzling descriptions of the colors.
But his writing is more than beautiful. Stevens' work often poses questions about death, life, religion, and art, taking the conventional and turning it on its head. His belief in the importance of his art is reflected in poems like "Not Ideas About The Thing But The Thing Itself," which ends with the portentous lines: "Surrounded by its choral rings,/Still far away. It was like/A new knowledge of reality."
Wallace Stevens is one of the most unique poets of the 20th century, and the sprawling "Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens" is a wonderful read.
Stevens is known, it seems to me, in two separate ways. In the popular sense, he is known for a series of remarkable early poems, in most cases not terribly long, notable for striking images and quite beautiful prosody. Of these poems the most famous is surely "Sunday Morning" -- other examples are "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird", "Peter Quince at the Clavier", "Sea Surface Full of Clouds", "Tea at the Palaz of Hoon", "The Emperor of Ice Cream", "The Idea of Order at Key West", "Of Modern Poetry". The great bulk of these come from his first collection, Harmonium, and indeed from the
first edition of Harmonium, published in 1923. These were certainly my favorite among his poems on first reading. And they remain favorites.
But his critical reputation rests strikingly on a completely different set of poems, all later than those mentioned above. (Though it must be acknowledged that at least "Sunday Morning" and "The Idea of Order at Key West" as well as two early long poems, "The Comedian as the Letter C" and "The Monocle de Mon Oncle", are in general highly regarded critically. And that most of his early work is certainly treated with respect.)
I think it's fair to say that "late Stevens" begins with "Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction", perhaps his most highly regarded work. Of course the terms "late" and "early" are odd
applied to Stevens. His first successful poems appeared in 1915
(including "Sunday Morning"), when he was 36. He was 44 when the first edition of Harmonium came out. That's pretty late for "early"! And by the 1942 publication of "Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction" he was 63. Indeed, his production from 1942 through his death in 1955 was remarkable: two major collections each with several long poems as well as at least another full collection worth of late poems, some included in this _Collected Poems_ but quite a few more not collected until after his death.
What to say about late Stevens? The most obvious adjective is
"austere". But that doesn't always apply -- he could also be quite playful. However, there is never the lushness of a "Sunday Morning" or "Sea Surface Full of Clouds" in the late works. The sentences tend to extraordinary length, but the internal rhythms are involving. The poems are all quite philosophical, much concerned with the importance of poetry, the nature of reality versus perceptions of reality, and, perhaps more simply, with growing old. (A Stevens theme, to be sure, that can be traced at least back to "The Monocle de Mon Oncle".)
So: Stevens is an impossibly wonderful, remarkable, poet, either early or late. His lush and imagist early work remains a delight, and his philosophically involving late work rewards rereading and concentration. He is a poet to whom you can return again and again, and he will always be new.