The World as Meditation

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Where is the line that separates imagination and reality? Can imagination heal a wounded heart? In the poem, The World as Meditation by Wallace Stevens, Penelope, seeking to allay her irresistible longing for her husband, immerses in a metaphysical state of thought about Odysseus and their love. Her daily engagement in such form of imagination illuminates her unbending loyalty, growing yearning, and unconditional love towards her husband. Through various literary devices, Stevens shows the power of imagination to fortify one’s mind by shifting away from the cold reality and venturing into a realm of transcendental thoughts: an empowering meditation. Stevens begins the poem, emphasizing Penelope’s mixture of doubt and yearning for Odysseus’ return through alliteration, diction choice, question and metaphors. The narrator begins with Penelope questioning her self whether it was “Ulysses that approaches from the east” This immediately convey her doubt and from there. This is when the alliteration of s-“Is it Ulysses that approaches from the east the interminable adventurer?”- endorses the magnitude of her doubt. When reading the poem out loud, the s drags down the pace of the question, which leaves a lingering echo in the reader’s mind, reflecting her exhaustion of yearning. The image of “interminable adventurer” is ironic to her hope of Odysseus’ return, as he is a man of twists and turns, venturing on an endless odyssey, which magnifies her doubt. The image of the tired Penelope contrasts with the hope, therefore making it discreet. She uses the mending trees and washed away winter as the support for her hope. The alliteration of w quickens the pace of the end of winter- “that winter is washed away” because it creates a rushing sound- like a gust of wind, as the poem is read out loud. Here the winter can also symbolize her cold despair and longing. Stevens chose “that” instead of “the” implies that “that winter” is something familiar to Penelope, something she

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