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Guilty Knowledge, Guilty PleasureThe Dirty Art of Poetry$
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William Logan

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231166867

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231166867.001.0001

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The Sovereign Ghost of Wallace Stevens

The Sovereign Ghost of Wallace Stevens

(p.54) The Sovereign Ghost of Wallace Stevens
Guilty Knowledge, Guilty Pleasure

William Logan

Columbia University Press

This chapter reviews Wallace Stevens's Selected Poems. Stevens belongs in that catchall group the moderns, those poets who changed American verse into something still recognizable a century later. The moderns were rudely different from one another, but they gave American poetry a vast armory of practice not exhausted yet. Much of Stevens is tedious, refractory, pompous, or ponderous; and even his masterpieces are full of bombast and puffery. His Harmonium (1923) is one of the most violently original, uncategorizable books ever published by an American poet. As he got older, he fell into blank-verse philosophizing. But the best poems in Stevens did not require philosophy while the worst are deformed by it.

Keywords:   Wallace Stevens, American poetry, poets, moderns, philosophy, reviews

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