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Reading Poetry, January15.doc

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Carleton University
ENGL 3007
Andrew Wallace

Wallace Stevens Vice President of an Insurance company. Born 1879 in Pennsylvania. Died in 1955. Lived in Connecticut. Famous and well-respected poet. Parts of the World: audio biography of Stevens. Gave important lectures at Harvard and Yale; won several prizes (Pulitzer). Father was a wealthy lawyer.Attended Harvard. Law school at NYU. Works with law firms: goes from Manhattan to Hartford. Wasn't advancing in his law career and found a way to advance by moving into insurance. Writes when he is young, takes a break, and then before 1920 he begins writing again: the poetry is amazing and makes up most of Harmonium. Still a prolific/respected poet until his death. Harmonium published when he is 44. Seems to regard human individuals as perceiving the world from a position of tension. His interests shift between what happens when the world operates on us and what a position of tension. His interests shift between what happens when the world operates on us and what happens when our imagination works on the world. Thus his poems are very abstract. What he's frequently looking for is a way to account for a relationship between the individual mind and the world in which it finds itself, and the relationship between those two things and other individuals. Examining the patterns and meanings that people inscribe upon the world.Aquasi-spiritual quest for something called the "supreme fiction": "poetry exceeding music, must take the place of empty heaven and its hymns". Poetry is to do the work of something like religion. Religious stories are fiction that have lost the value of captivating the imagination: poet as someone who must create a new mythology. Wants the supreme fiction to be something that we can believe, while knowing that it is fiction and untrue. Not about shaping our lives around this: about the imagination and faith in fictions. Not about eternal truths. The poet as a creator of new first things. "The issue here is not that poetry is asked to take the place of something; poetry is part of the same imaginative capability that once sustained the gods of heavens".An incredibly spiritual man although he has clearly fallen away from religion. Romanticism of the poet as seer: possesses a special insight into the nature of things. • Harmonium (1923). Pulls together poems from 1913 onwards. • The Snow Man Attaching surprising articles to words. His use of prepositions (in, on, upon). Interesting use of adverbs. Working with paradoxes and the relationship between positives and negatives: i.e. one MUST have a mmind… NOT to think. R
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