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Wallace Stevens

  • American poet
  • Born October 2, 1879
  • Died August 2, 1955

Wallace Stevens (October 2, 1879 – August 2, 1955) was an American modernist poet. He was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, educated at Harvard and then New York Law School, and he spent most of his life working as an executive for an insurance company in Hartford, Connecticut. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his Collected Poems in 1955. Stevens' first period of writing begins with his 1923 publication of the Harmonium collection, followed by a slightly revised and amended second edition in 1930.


The most beautiful thing in the world is, of course, the world itself.




The imagination is man's power over nature.




In the world of words, the imagination is one of the forces of nature.




Accuracy of observation is the equivalent of accuracy of thinking.

Accuracy of observation is the equivalent of accuracy of thinking.




One's ignorance is one's chief asset.




A poem need not have a meaning and like most things in nature often does not have.




Thought is an infection. In the case of certain thoughts, it becomes an epidemic.




Perhaps it is of more value to infuriate philosophers than to go along with them.




The only emperor is the emperor of ice cream.




Intolerance respecting other people's religion is toleration itself in comparison with intolerance respecting other people's art.




One cannot spend one's time in being modern when there are so many more important things to be.




In poetry, you must love the words, the ideas and the images and rhythms with all your capacity to love anything at all.




It can never be satisfied, the mind, never.




Money is a kind of poetry.




The philosopher proves that the philosopher exists. The poet merely enjoys existence.

The philosopher proves that the philosopher exists. The poet merely enjoys existence.




We say God and the imagination are one... How high that highest candle lights the dark.




If some really acute observer made as much of egotism as Freud has made of sex, people would forget a good deal about sex and find the explanation for everything in egotism.




New York is a field of tireless and antagonistic interests undoubtedly fascinating but horribly unreal. Everybody is looking at everybody else a foolish crowd walking on mirrors.




As life grows more terrible, its literature grows more terrible.




The genuine artist is never 'true to life.' He sees what is real, but not as we are normally aware of it. We do not go storming through life like actors in a play. Art is never real life.




Death is the mother of Beauty; hence from her, alone, shall come fulfillment to our dreams and our desires.




Nothing could be more inappropriate to American literature than its English source since the Americans are not British in sensibility.




Our bloom is gone. We are the fruit thereof.




A poet looks at the world the way a man looks at a woman.




Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake.




The reason can give nothing at all Like the response to desire.




How full of trifles everything is! It is only one's thoughts that fill a room with something more than furniture.




To regard the imagination as metaphysics is to think of it as part of life, and to think of it as part of life is to realize the extent of artifice. We live in the mind.




Style is not something applied. It is something that permeates. It is of the nature of that in which it is found, whether the poem, the manner of a god, the bearing of a man. It is not a dress.




The way through the world is more difficult to find than the way beyond it.

The way through the world is more difficult to find than the way beyond it.




If poetry should address itself to the same needs and aspirations, the same hopes and fears, to which the Bible addresses itself, it might rival it in distribution.




The point of vision and desire are the same.




The day of the sun is like the day of a king. It is a promenade in the morning, a sitting on the throne at noon, a pageant in the evening.




Reality is not what it is. It consists of the many realities which it can be made into.

Reality is not what it is. It consists of the many realities which it can be made into.




The fire burns as the novel taught it how.




Poor, dear, silly Spring, preparing her annual surprise!



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