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Chapter 29 - The Romantic and Anti-Romantic in the Poetry of Wallace Stevens

from Part III - Forms of Modernism, 1900–1950

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 December 2014

Alfred Bendixen
Affiliation:
Princeton University, New Jersey
Stephen Burt
Affiliation:
Harvard University, Massachusetts
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Summary

Wallace Stevens's poem makes a greater claim: the earth is held as the object of his perfect and compulsory love. His loathing of things as they are points to the future modernist's need to transform them through the projection of his imagination. Notably missing from his list of consolations is religion itself, although he was still taking communion. In the early journal entry already cited, Stevens defined his five consolations namely love, nature, friendship, work and phantasy. Each was posited on the foundation of physical well-being, there being nothing good in the world except it. By the time he wrote Yellow Afternoon, Stevens seemed to possess the consolations only of nature and phantasy. Stevens's renewed romanticism, always followed by its accompanying disavowals and reconstitutions, evolving into his own amassing grand poem and marking his unique testimony to modernism in the last century.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2014

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