The Emperor of Ice Cream

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Usually, death is considered to be a solemn occurrence. It’s a situation that lends itself to respect, repose, remembrances, and most of all deference for the deceased. These emotions are always variant and dependent on the relation of one to the deceased. In the poem “The Emperor of Ice Cream” by Wallace Stevens, these sentiments that are so common and that are almost adhered to withought thought, are thrashed in the face of the reader. The general attitude toward death herewith seems that are of a passing flim flam, a complete opposite of that with which we all view death, regardless if we do it with thought or not. The thought of the big muscular roller of cigars whipping up sensual delights in the kitchen brings to mind a lustful poem, the wenches dressed as they would any day, does not portray what we normally tend to wear when “paying respects” to the deceased. Normally we wear our best, darkly colored solemn dress, not our everyday wear. To cover the deceased in a linen from a raggedy dresser, as exemplified by the term the one “lacking three glass knobs” and to hell and high water if her “horny” feet should show; also is lacking in what is generally expressed to the deceased. She is cold, she is dumb. Both statements to which “society” would cringe at if “heard” at a wake. And finally, let the lamp affix its beam, almost as if this were a freak show with a spotlight on the “freak” for all to pass in line and point and snicker at, as opposed to candles and or low lighting. The “Emperor of Ice Cream” indeed; this poem is a complete slap in the face to the term “paying respects to the deceased” and is self evident in its being the complete opposite of such in its perception of death. Personally I can see why it caused such uproar in the 1920’s when society was much more “devout”, if you will, as a whole. It was when everything was black or white, when you behaved properly, which usually meant like everyone else behaves. The fact that in the 1920’s people...
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