ClassicPoet: Wallace Stevens
WallaceStevens is one of the most respected and celebrated poets in theUnited States. He was a stylist and master in his art and was able toutilize a wide range of styles, vocabulary and craftiness to writeaward winning poems. In addition to being a poet, he was also anaesthetic philosopher who explored poetry as a combination ofobjective reality and creative imagination of the author as well as abusiness executive. Wallace Stevens is considered to be one of thedeliberately difficult writers in American poetry due thematic andtechnical convolution of his poems. Despite this, he is celebrated asa proactive thinker and one of the fathers of abstractionism inAmerican poetry (Cook, 2007).
WallaceStevens was born on October 1879 in Reading, Pennsylvania. He wasborn in a religious family which subscribed to the “Dutch ReformedChurch”. Thus, he was studied in parochial schools when he wasrelatively young. His father had a huge contribution to thedevelopment of his literary and writing skills. He encouraged WallaceStevens to start reading and writing at a very young age by ensuringthat he had an access to an extensive library at home. While inschool, he studies Greek and Latin, in addition to being adistinguished orator and writer in high school. His writing skillsand early promise of his being a celebrated writer were evident whenhe became a major contributor to the school’s newspaper (Mariani,2016).
Hejoined Harvard University where he continued with his literacypursuits. While in Harvard, he made huge contribution in the HarvardAdvocate as a regular writer and the Harvard Monthly asa member of the editorial board, board’s president and editor. Dueto the shortage of manuscripts, Wallace Stevens included several ofhis woks in each release. Unfortunately, he was forced to withdrawfrom the university due to financial challenges faced by his family.He worked as journalist and later a reporter for New York EveningPost. This allowed his to explore the New York City, which has aninfluence on his career as a poet. He later went back to universitywhere he studied law at the New York Law School and was admitted tothe United States bar in 1904. He practiced law for twelve years(Mariani, 2016).
Despitehis successful legal career, Wallace Stevens maintained a closerelationship with writers and painters in the city of New York,especially Greenwich Village. In 1914, he sent a collection of poemsunder the pen name ‘Peter Parasol’ to Harriet Monroe. Althoughpoems, which he named “Phases”, did not win the “war poemcompetition” of Poetry magazine, Wallace Stevens’s poemswere published later that year. After leaving level practice in 1916,he relocated to Connecticut where he worked in the Hartford Accidentand Indemnity Co. becoming the company vice president in 1934(Mariani, 2016). In 1923, he published “Harmonium”, hisfirst poems book. The book borrowed from both French symbolism andEnglish Romanticism. The Harmonium also exhibited WallaceStevens’s inclination towards aesthetic philosophy. In 1931, hepublished the second edition of Harmonium. In his poems,Wallace Stevens was more concerned with the transformative abilitiesof an author’s imagination. He used to compose poems on his way toor from work (Cook, 2007).
However,he was not considered a major poet in the early 20thcentury until a collection of his poems was published just before hedied. Some of his major works includes “the necessary angle”,“notes towards a supreme fiction”, “the man with the blueguitar”, “ideas of order” and “parts of a world”,among others. There are several posthumous publications, which werepublished after his death in 1955, which includes “the path at theend of the mind” among others (Cook, 2007).
Cook,E. (2007). A reader`s guide to Wallace Stevens. Princeton,N.J.: Princeton University Press.
Mariani,P. (2016). The Whole Harmonium: The Life of Wallace Stevens.Simon & Schuster, ISBN 1451624395.