Wallace Stevens-Cycles and Seasons

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  • Topic: Poetry, J. Hillis Miller, Sun
  • Pages : 4 (1265 words )
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  • Published : October 11, 2010
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Cycles and Seasons:


Cycles and seasons are recurrent and prominent themes within Stevens’ poetry: “When Stevens began around 1913 to write the poems that would constitute his modernist canon, he began at once to write poems of autumn, winter, spring, and summer. The presence of the seasons in his poems is so pervasive that few critics fail at least to mention it.” – J. Hillis Miller •Miller suggests that “Stevens’ pastoral predilection is born in the robust and romantic pleasures derived from the native terrain he knew in his adolescence and young manhood” – i.e. that growing up in regional Pennsylvania instilled in him a love of nature •In writing so-called pastoral poetry, Stevens was in good company – the tradition is an age-old one, with precedents to be found as far back as ancient Greece and Rome •The cycles of nature and the seasons were also central themes for the Romanticists, a movement that Stevens is closely associated with •However, cycles and seasons were of special import to Stevens, and had resonance beyond any aesthetic appeal they lent to his work •The exploration of such themes yielded for Stevens vital knowledge, which was to constitute the way he approached life as a man living in the 20th century, beset as it was with spiritual, military and financial crises •Looking at Stevens’ treatment of cycles and seasons may reveal why such themes were so important to him:

Psyche and the seasons:

“We are physical beings in a physical world; the weather is one of the things that we enjoy, one of the unphilosophical realities. The state of weather soon becomes a state of mind.” -Stevens (Lensing 5) •“Life and Nature are One.” -Stevens

Stevens parallels mood with the natural world. In the context of Stevens’ poetic career, “The Sun This March” was the first poem after a six year silence following Harmonium. Thus it is elegiac, a revival of the “dead poetic self” (Bloom 88) •1st Significance of Brahms in “Anglais Mort a...
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