previous page: Ann Sexton next page: William Carlos Williams
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
News & Announcements
About the Poets
Additional Reading
 Wallace Stevens

Wallace Stevens was born in Reading, PA on October 2, 1879. He attended Harvard and was president of the student literary magazine. He became a lawyer in 1904 and worked in several different legal jobs. He married Elsie Moll in 1909, a woman he had met in Reading 5 years earlier, and had one daughter, Holly, in 1924. He started working for the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Insurance company in 1916, and he was promoted to vice-president around 1934. 
Stevens remained separated from the literary world, but he wrote like a man absorbed in the culture. He published his first book of poems when he was 44 (1923), even though he had published poetry in periodicals beginning in 1914. He lived a very normal, white-collar life, and kept working until his death on August 2, 1955. 

Visit the Links Page for Wallace Stevens web sites


The Snowman
One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.
Wallace Stevens


Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.
I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird 
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?

I know noble accents
And lucid, escapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

He rode over Connecticut 
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.

It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

The poet makes silk dresses out of worms.

After one has abandoned a belief in God, poetry is that essence
which takes its place as life's redemption.

All poetry is experimental poetry.

One reads poetry with one's nerves.

A poet looks at the world as a man looks at a woman.

Aristotle is a skeleton.

Thought tends to collect in pools.

Poetry must resist the intelligence almost successfully.

One cannot spend one's time in being modern
when there are so many more important things to be.