Analysis of Wallace Stevens” “On Modern Poetry”

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3 December 2021

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There is something to be mentioned for a person who can look deeply into his profession and outline exactly what’s that he does. The deaths of many men have passed without a definition of their lives, or a real understanding of what they do. In his poem “On Modern Poetry,” Wallace Stevens makes an attempt to define his life’s work and his passion. To a poet “On Modern Poetry” serves as each a guidebook and a beautiful example of what makes poetics an incredible art.

Stevens uses his talent to explain his expertise, taking the reader on a wonderful journey via the process of poem creation, and thru the human mind. The aforementioned pointers that Wallace details in “On Modern Poetry” are useless on and should have shaped the best way that poems are created to this day. He captured the true essence of poetics whereas allowing the reader to proceed doing their job, utilizing their mind and their creativeness. Stevens weaves a visual path through the job description of a poem and leaves the reader questioning what is claimed, and tips on how to take it.

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The journey of poem writing is a perplexing one, especially in the area of methodology. When Wallace Stevens opens “On Modern Poetry” with the line: “The poem of the thoughts in the act of finding/What will suffice” (ll. 1-2). He is detailing the struggle to search out the best word, the right scheme, or the proper time for change. He then follows with: “It has not always had/To find: the scene was set; it repeated what/Was in the script” (ll.

2-4). This is in reference to alter and the modernist/imagist view of poetry in the past. This could be taken as a derogatory comment to the simplicity and complacency of past poetry. Regardless, I are inclined to take it as a touch upon the overall state of poetry, a have a glance at the past, but a welcoming of the state of current poetry. The first stanza of the poem merely details the struggles of a changing genre, and makes use of descriptive diction to do that.

One wonderful factor about a poem is that it leaves room for thought, for private development, and for particular person interpretation. Not solely does “On Modern Poetry” do these things, however it additionally tells the reader to do them. “A metaphysician at midnight, twanging/An instrument, twanging a wiry string that gives/Sounds passing through a sudden rightnesses, wholly/Containing the mind…” (ll. 20-23). The lines in themselves are perplexing and depart plenty of room for interpretation. But what a reader comes to conclude is that Stevens is suggesting that a poem buries itself throughout the human thoughts and crops a seed. The poem acts as a seed to thought, and it workouts the thoughts regularly. A good poem is one that makes the reader assume, and not simply about the words, but about themselves and about their mind.

The concept of a poem as a performer, be it an actor in a play, or a musician taking part in an instrument, or a metaphysician enjoying an instrument is certainly one of explicit curiosity. Stevens uses the metaphor throughout the poem and does so fairly nicely. The duality of the performer as the poet permits for a variety of comparison and provides method to a multitude of metaphors. In the following strains Stevens makes use of the concept of a actor on stage to current the depth of a poems words:

“…speak words that in the ear,

In the delicatest ear of the mind, repeat,


Exactly, that which it wants to hear, on the sound

Of which, and invisible viewers listens,

Not to the play, however to itself, expressed

In an emotion as of two individuals, as of two

Emotions becoming one…” (ll. 13-19).

The traces symbolize the concept a poem must cross over from actuality to a level that talks to the reader and permits them to listen to their thoughts and never simply the poem. The poem turns into merely a car for the human thoughts; it opens doors and allows the reader to read about themselves.

When Stevens enters the second stanza he begins to offer his pointers for contemporary poetry:

“It needs to be residing, to study the speech of the place.

It has to face the boys of the time and to meet

The girls of the time. It has to suppose about war

And it has to find what’s going to suffice” (ll. 7-10).

The strains in themselves are quite simple, in their authentic kind. They present simple rules, but guidelines that have been fairly fashionable during this time. The thought of together with the assembly of women supplies a reasonably trendy concept in concern to women’s rights and public recognition. Poems have always been involved with struggle, or with human struggling, but the modern thought of thinking of war provides an example of being each positive and tragic. The previous hundred years had been fairly rose-colored, but beginning in the 1930’s America took a turn for the worse and thus offered a cause to contemplate human tragedy. For a poem to be residing and to study the speech of the place simply means it must me modern, or current.

The ultimate 4 traces are more intriguing and seem more complicated than all of the earlier lines. They appear to be placing into motion the concepts of the poem so far. He gives examples of what things would work as “modern poetry”. Modern poetry must discover satisfaction, and a few ways during which that could be achieved is through the discussion of a man skating or of a girl dancing or combing her hair. These things must exercise the thoughts though. Modern poems can not merely describe the motion, but must look beyond the motion, from the topic, to the writer, to the reader.

While I can not declare to completely perceive Stevens’ view of recent poetry, I feel that by way of his poem I can form some conclusions about his beliefs. Wallace Stevens was not a highly renowned scholar, but he did have an understanding of what he was writing. He might describe his work, and he could put it on paper for others to see. As a student now finally gaining a respect for poetry it’s nice to see what a poem writer thinks about his job. It is amazing to see that a poem could be made from any matter, and maybe that gives another level within the description of poetry. In a 28-line poem Wallace succeeds in offering a guidebook in the writing of excellent poetry, and provides the reader a lot to assume about. But, as Wallace says himself, “The poem of the act of the mind” (l. 28).

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"Analysis of Wallace Stevens” “On Modern Poetry”" StudyScroll, 3 December 2021,

StudyScroll. (2021). Analysis of Wallace Stevens” “On Modern Poetry” [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 9 August, 2022]

"Analysis of Wallace Stevens” “On Modern Poetry”" StudyScroll, Dec 3, 2021. Accessed Aug 9, 2022.

"Analysis of Wallace Stevens” “On Modern Poetry”" StudyScroll, Dec 3, 2021.

"Analysis of Wallace Stevens” “On Modern Poetry”" StudyScroll, 3-Dec-2021. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 9-Aug-2022]

StudyScroll. (2021). Analysis of Wallace Stevens” “On Modern Poetry”. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 9-Aug-2022]

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