A critical appreciation of Wallace Stevens- “The Idea of Order at Key West”
“The Idea of Order at Key West” was written in 1934 and is considered Stevens’ most complicated poem. It is both long (being eight stanzas and 56 lines) and in depth.”The Idea …” is in a loose iambic pentameter and is written in free verse, meaning that there is no organized rhyme pattern. The stanzas are a bit confusing because the fifth one is indented a lot after the fourth one. In fact, there is no actual line between them. As complex as it is, the plot of “The Idea…” is rather simple. The speaker of the poem, a man, is walking down a beach with a friend and hears a woman singing. He muses on how the sounds of the ocean contrast and inspire her voice. He imagines that she is as beautiful as both her song and the ocean. Though he doesn’t actually see the woman’s face, the speaker knows that she is lovely. As he walks behind her, the speaker notices how her bright, ethereal voice compares to the dark sounding sea. To him it is almost as if the ocean was a spirit whose voice they could not hear, but knew was there. For most of the poem Stevens paints a picture of an ocean that is both enchanting and mysterious at the same time. In turn, the woman’s song is made mystical and alluring because of the setting. Though we, the readers, don’t see the woman or hear her song, we experience the transformation that the sea, the city, and the speaker go through. In the fourth stanza the tone of the poem turns darker and the speaker begins to notice things other than the woman, her song, and the ocean. He claims that it was her voice that made the sky clearer and the ocean belonged to her and her song alone. He and his companion realize that the only world for her was the “one she sang and, singing, made.” In the seventh stanza we learn the name of the speaker’s companion: Ramon Fernandez. He (the speaker) asks Ramon why things looked different after the mystery woman finished her song; her song...
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