A beautiful new edition—the first in nearly twenty years—of the work of Wallace Stevens, a founding father of contemporary American poetry, with a dazzling range of work that is at once emotional and intellectual. As John N. Serio reminds us in his elegant introduction, Stevens has written more persuasively than any other poet about the significance of poetry itself in everyday life: “The imagination—frequently synonymous with the act of the mind, or poetry, for Stevens—is what gives life its savor, its sanction, its sacred quality.”
This rich and thorough selection—published in the 130th anniversary year of Stevens’s birth—carries us from the explosion of Harmonium in 1923 to the maturity of The Auroras of Autumn in 1950 and the magisterial Collected Poems published by Knopf in 1954. To be drawn in once more by “The Emperor of Ice-Cream,” “Sunday Morning,” “The Idea of Order at Key West,” “Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction,” to name only a few, is to experience again the mystery of a poet who calls us to a higher music and to a deeper understanding of our vast and inarticulate interior world.
This essential volume for all readers of poetry reminds us of Stevens’s nearly unparalleled contribution to the art form and his unending ability to puzzle, fascinate, and delight us.
Wallace Stevens was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, on October 2, 1879, and died in Hartford, Connecticut, on August 2, 1955. Although he had contributed to the Harvard Advocate while in college, he began to gain general recognition only when Harriet Monroe included four of his poems in a special 1914 wartime issue of Poetry. Harmonium, his first volume of poems, was published in 1923, and was followed by Ideas of Order (1936), The Man with the Blue Guitar (1937), Parts of a World (1942), Transport to Summer (1947), The Auroras of Autumn (1950), The Necessary Angel (a volume of essays, 1951), The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens (1954), and Opus Posthumous (first published in 1957, edited by Samuel French Morse; a new, revised, and corrected edition by Milton J. Bates, 1989). Mr. Stevens was awarded the Bollingen Prize in Poetry of the Yale University Library for 1949. In 1951 he won the National Book Award in Poetry for The Auroras of Autumn, in 1955 he won it a second time for The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens, which was also awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 1955. From 1916 on, he was associated with the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company, of which he became vice president in 1934.
Read the table of contents for this collection.