Stevens, Wallace

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Stevens, Wallace

Wallace Stevens, 1879–1955, American poet, b. Reading, Pa., educated at Harvard and New York Law School. After 1916 he was associated with the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company, and from 1934 until his death he served as its vice president. A master of exquisite verse, Stevens was specifically concerned with creating some shape of order in the "slovenly wilderness" of chaos. These ideas are expressed in his earliest volume, Harmonium (1923), to which belongs the best known of his poems, "Sunday Morning." His ideas are developed in the subsequent volumes Ideas of Order (1936); The Man with the Blue Guitar (1937); Parts of the World (1942); Transport to Summer (1947), which includes the long poem "Notes toward a Supreme Fiction," in which Stevens elaborates on the poet's role in creating the fictions necessary to transform and harmonize the world; The Auroras of Autumn (1950); The Necessary Angel, essays (1951); Collected Poems (1954; Pulitzer Prize); and Opus Posthumous (1957).

See his Collected Poetry and Prose (1997), ed. by F. Kermode and J. Richardson; letters, ed. by H. Stevens (1966); biographies by H. Stevens (1977) and J. Richardson (2 vol., 1986–88); studies by H. Vendler (1969) and H. Bloom (1980).

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