Back Wallace Stevens

Wallace Stevens

1879–1955
Wallace Stevens in July 1950. (Walter Sanders/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Major works:
Harmonium • “The Idea of Order at Key West” • “The Man With the Blue Guitar” • “Of Modern Poetry” • The Auroras of Autumn

“At the bottom of Stevens’s poetry there is wonder and delight, the child’s or animal’s or savage’s—man’s—joy in his own existence, and thankfulness for it. He is the poet of well-being: ‘One might have thought of sight, but who could think / Of what it sees, for all the ill it sees?’ This sigh of awe, of wondering pleasure, is underneath all these poems that show us the ‘celestial possible,’ everything that has not yet been transformed into the infernal impossibilities of our everyday earth.”
—Randall Jarrell

Read an excerpt from

The Man with the Blue Guitar

Wallace Stevens

The man bent over his guitar,
A shearsman of sorts. The day was green.

They said, “You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are.”

The man replied, “Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar.”

And they said then, “But play, you must,
A tune beyond us, yet ourselves,

A tune upon the blue guitar
Of things exactly as they are.”

Read a passage from The Man with the Blue Guitar by Wallace Stevens
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