Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Great Regulars: Anyone who cared about American poetry

presumed that Stevens's career as a poet was finished, but then "The Idea of Order at Key West" suddenly appeared in 1934. Beginning at age 55, Stevens finally assumed the profile of a poet, and the great books of his maturity (Ideas of Order, The Man With the Blue Guitar, Parts of a World, Transport to Summer and The Auroras of Autumn) were published at regular intervals. He continued working at the Hartford until well after the age of mandatory retirement; he declined an invitation to be the Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard. Shortly before his death in 1955, his Collected Poems received both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

One of his last poems was "The River of Rivers in Connecticut":

from Powells: Review-A-Day: A Music of Austerity


Throughout this book, poems enact the contemplative struggle of faith; often [Kazim] Ali meditates on natural forms until we find that wilderness too is prayer. In "Chasm" he writes "all this time I have been speaking/to nothing but wildness//and now wildness is answering." Another brief catalogue of titles reveals a preoccupation with nature as a means to meditate on the nature of spirit: "Morning Prayer," "The Year of Winter," "The Desert," "The Ocean Floor," "Horizon," "Ursa Major." Nowhere does nature reflect Ali's query as to the nature of human existence more than the human body that dies.

from Powells: Review-A-Day: Riddles of Spirit


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