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Selected Poems by [Stevens, Wallace, John N. Serio]
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Selected Poems Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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"Far more than Eliot or Pound, Stevens wished passionately to be above all a poet of twentieth-century America and its American English; and he had the luck, as they did not, to write with increasing genius to the end of his life." --Helen Vendler, "The New York Times Book Review

Far more than Eliot or Pound, Stevens wished passionately to be above all a poet of twentieth-century America and its American English; and he had the luck, as they did not, to write with increasing genius to the end of his life. Helen Vendler, "The New York Times Book Review

About the Author

Wallace Stevens, of Pennsylvania Dutch descent, was born in 1879. He studied at Harvard and worked briefly as a journalist, before going on to study law. In 1908 he began working for the legal department of the Hartford Accident and Indemnity insurance company, in Connecticut, of which he became vice-president in 1934. He died in Hartford in 1955.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 756 KB
  • Print Length: 353 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; Reprint edition (27 Jan. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #287,202 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Paperback
It is Stevens himself who declares, in 'A High-Toned Old Christian Woman', that "Poetry is the supreme fiction". He might have added, therefore, that a collection of poems is the truest anthology, for Stevens' 'Selected Poems' is itself a collection of fine poems and supreme fictions. Representative of Steven's early, middle and late work, the selection includes poems from Harmonium, Ideas of Order, The Man With The Blue Guitar and The Auroras of Autumn, as well as items from his other collections. Indeed, the poet himself made the selection in 1965, and the result is an illuminating and yet balanced poetic content, revealing both its author's earlier verbal ingenuity and his later philosophical rigour. Only the Opus Posthumous is unrepresented, simply because Stevens was still alive when the selection was first printed.
For all the felicity of selection, however, some Stevens readers may be disappointed with the edition's lack of scholarship. Faber appoint no editor to the work, and the shortcomings that result are at best an irritation, and at worst a serious hindrance to the educated or scholarly reader. No poem, for example, is dated, nor is the collection from which each poem is taken indicated. There is also no introduction, no index, nor any annotation. A poet so subtle, difficult and original as Stevens produces work that responds well to detailed critical attention: it is therefore a shame that the edition provides no such analysis.
But Stevens is a fine poet, and this is a fine selection of - and thus an excellent introduction to - his work. Should you, then, wish to appreciate the work of one of the 20th-century's most original poets, this is an excellent edition: should you wish to pursue this intial interest, an edition with more editorial apparatus might be a better way of looking at the blackbird.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the master of 20th Century poetry in English. Difficult, but profound, complex -one struggles with his absolute claim for the primacy of language and the nature of poetic creation- but ultmately a dandy and a high romantic.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x91934960) out of 5 stars 10 reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9194421c) out of 5 stars A constant sacrament of praise 29 Aug. 2009
By Shalom Freedman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I am a reader of poetry whose ability to grasp great long poems is extremely limited. So much of the work of Wallace Stevens including 'Auroras of Autumn' and even 'Man with a Blue Guitar' do not hold and interest me. On the other hand there are certain shorter poems of Stevens which I find unequalled, incredibly beautiful. A seemingly simple poem like 'Snow Man' has a depth of thought and a music which makes me wish to possess it in mind completely , memorize it and be able to wherever I am, when I need it repeat it aloud to myself. There are passages of such great musical beauty in Stevens that he like Shakespeare and Keats provides aesthetic delight at the highest level.
This 'Selected Poems' contains much of the Stevens we know from the Anthologies. And it also contains much of the more challenging longer works which I suspect are primarily of interest to literary critics.
The preeminent Stevens critic Helen Vendler in a highly favorable review of this new 'Selected Poems' claims that its one lack is its failure to include non- published poems which show Stevens biographical personal connection to his poetry. But aside from praising highly the critical introduction of the work she finds it of great value in including the challenging, longer works.
Clearly this is a work for all lovers of Stevens poetry. I also recommend it for those who have not known the work of Stevens. They will have the great pleasure of discovering one of the greatest of the modern poets, one who even when his surface meaning escapes us provides a richness of music, a thrilling beauty in suggestiveness which is like no other.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x91c8d57c) out of 5 stars A New Selection of Stevens' Poetry 22 Dec. 2009
By Robin Friedman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
John Serio's new selection of the poetry of Wallace Stevens (1879 -1955) gave me the opportunity to revisit the works of this great American modernist poet. Stevens was able to combine his calling as a poet with a highly successful career as a lawyer and executive for the Hartford Insurance Company. This combination of poetry and practice was a source of my early fascination with Stevens many years ago. Stevens is also unusual because his first major collection of poetry, "Harmonium" appeared in 1923, when he was well into his 40s. The Library of America has published a volume of Stevens' complete poetry and prose. But this volume with poems selected by Serio, a noted Stevens scholar, includes poems from each of the poet's published volumes together with an introductory essay. It is an excellent introduction to Stevens for the new reader and will encourage those familiar with Stevens to read him again. The book is a pleasure to read and hold with large print and each poem beginning on its own page. Here are some of my thoughts on Stevens after reading this volume of Selected Poems.

Stevens writes with wit, gaiety, elegance and beauty. He is among the most philosophical of poets. He is a mixture of the realist and the romantic, and one of his major themes is combining the humdrum nature of daily reality, the quotidian, with romance and imagination through poetry. His thought is complex and shifting, but, on this reading, Stevens seemed to me as akin to an idealist who empahsizes the role of the individual mind in creating its reality. Some of the early poems such as "Sunday Morning" are highly meditative, and the abstract, philosophical character of Stevens poetry became more prevalent as he grew older. The last poems include reflections on the nature of being (I don't know if Stevens was familiar with the philosopher Martin Heidegger) including the final poem in this selection, "On Mere Being", which begins:

"The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze decor,

A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song."

Stevens is both deeply introspective writer who describes his own moods and thought and a poet who portrays, paints, and responds to the world he sees around him. Part of Stevens' goal as a poet is to break down the dichotomy between the "objective" and the "subjective" and to combine them in a poem or other work of art. His poems are full of allusions to music and painting. For most of his life, and in his poetry, Stevens was a secularist who saw poetry as a way of bringing meaning to life that religions offered to their adherents.

For all the philosophical character of his work, Stevens resisted intellectualization in favor of a return to the world of feeling and innocence. He is essentially romantic. His poems, in their combination of the abstract, the concrete, the playful, and the allusive also tend to be difficult. In a poem called "Man Carrying Thing", Stevens wrote:

"The poem must resist the intelligence
Almost successfully."

Some of the poems in this selection will likely be beautiful and relatively clear to the new reader. Others may remain opaque through many readings. Stevens is a writer who repays revisiting with time. The shorter poems tend to be easier while the many lengthy poems contain Stevens' extended reflections and discussions with himself on beauty, poetry, feeling, and reality.

Some readers like to pick and choose in an anthology of poetry. My suggestion would be to read the book through, in the chronological order in which Serio presents the poems. There will be much that will be difficult in this approach, but it will give the reader an understanding of Stevens' themes and of his growth. It is also valuable to look at the poems that Serio mentions or discusses in his introduction, particularly, at first, the shorter poems.

The poems that I like and that are relatively easy to read include "The Snow Man", "The Emperor of Ice Cream", and "Sunday Morning" from "Harmonium" and "The Idea of Order at Key West" from "Ideas of Order". "Poetry is a Destructive Force", "The Glass of Water", and "Angels Surrounded by Paysans" are short, accessible poems from later collections. The many beautifully reflective final poems include "To an Old Philosopher in Rome", "A Quiet Normal Life", and "A River of Rivers in Connecticut."

In concluding his introduction to the volume, Serio writes: "My wish is that this slimmer volume of selected poems will also become a prized possession, one that readers will keep close, hidden in them day and night, so that they might cherish, in the central of their being, the vivid transparence that [Stevens'] poetry brings." Serio has indeed given the reader a gift -- a selection of Stevens' poems to be treasured and reread with time.

Robin Friedman
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x91a3ee88) out of 5 stars Poet's eye 4 Oct. 2009
By E. A Solinas - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"At night, by the fire/The colors of the bushes/And of the fallen leaves/Repeating themselves..."

Simple yet lush, colorful yet elusive -- that's Wallace Stevens in a handful of words. "The Selected Poems by Wallace Stevens" brings together many of his poems from several of his published collections, giving a taste of his evolving work throughout the years -- the weird and the elusively lovely, dense with atmosphere and intense emotion.

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," the gritty weirdness of "Bantams in Pine-Woods," and the bittersweet farewells of "Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour." He takes multiple looks at "Thirteen Ways of Looking At A Blackbird," and the lush "Six Significant Landscapes" ("A pool shines/Like a bracelet/Shaken in a dance").

In other poems, Stevens dips into outright surrealism, like in the fearful and powerful "Domination of Black" ("I saw how the night came,/Came striding like the color of the heavy hemlocks/I felt afraid/And I remembered the cry of the peacocks..."), 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."

And while he sometimes dips into sparer verse (even silly verse), 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."

"The Selected Poems by Wallace Stevens" is obviously not quite the full experience of the great poet's collected works, but it's still a brilliant taste of one of the most unique artists of the 20th century.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x91c75720) out of 5 stars Stevens the Vice President 8 Feb. 2011
By robert maslansky - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
For a person who writes poetry often what is imagined is a cold garret overlooking a grim urban scene, the meager remains of a barely sustainable meal etc. etc. And, oh yes, the half empty bottle of 'vin ordinaire'.

With Stevens and a few others, TS Eliot, Philip Larkin, G M Hopkins, and, of course W C Williams, there was employment that alone would be prepossessing: TSE, a corporate publisher, PL, an academic head librarian, GMH, a parish priest, and WCW, a practicing pediatrician.

I imagine WS going up to his study after a silent dinner with his disenchanting spouse, closing the door and spending several more hours pruning, polishing, burnishing his extraordinary poems.

How (the hell) did they do it? Perhaps their poems themselves offer a clue. I am rereading all of the above with that thought in mind. This new collection and critique of Stevens is invaluable.
HASH(0x92223564) out of 5 stars Good but not Great 16 July 2016
By s. berger - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's a nice collection, but didn't have The Bird with the Coppery, Keen Claws, which is an important poem in the Steven's oeuvre and one of his better ones. Not sure why this was missing. There are better collections of his poems out there, but if you want a good representative selection, this will do.
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