Wallace Stevens, the intellectual deep thinking American poet had early interest in writing poetry, but achieved success and fame only later in middle age. His great poetry was composed after many years as a lawyer and as vice-president of a prestigious insurance company. The Pulitzer Prize for Poetry was awarded him just before he died at age 75.
Often, the meaning and philosophy behind his poems are obscure and difficult to decipher. There is confusion and there are varying theories about what he means by,
“supreme fiction”, “death is the mother of beauty” and a “blue guitar”. Certainly, he was anti religion if its main focus stressed a spiritual afterlife.
What is divinity if it can come
Only in silent shadows and in dreams?
There is no reality, just imagination he explains. Though his imaginative constructs can run wild, stay with his poems and get carried along on the ride. Stick with him
because there are many poems of elegant simplicity and delight.
I measure myself
Against a tall tree
I find that I am much taller
For I reach right up to the sun
With my eye;
And I reach to the shore of the sea
With my ear.
Nevertheless, I dislike
The way the ants crawl
In and out of my shadow.
The martini is quintessentially American, though gin has its origin in the Middle Ages. According to H. L. Mencken this cocktail is “the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet”. Stevens liked his cocktails and probably after one too many, argued with and alienated Robert Frost. In Key West he reportedly broke his hand
in a fight with Hemingway and got knocked into the street. They never reconciled.
To continue reading his works, I recommend a relaxing sip of the highest quality gin martini stirred or shaken on ice to cool any reactive volcanic emotions.
Elliot O. Lipchik