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Harmonium

4.52  ·  Rating Details  ·  440 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
Wallace's best poems, contained within this collection, have been described as the work of someone sympathetic, magnanimous, brightly and deeply intelligent.
Paperback, 160 pages
Published May 1st 2001 by Faber & Faber (first published 1923)
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(showing 1-30 of 897)
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Farren
Mar 20, 2012 Farren rated it it was amazing
HOLY SHIT GUYS HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT THIS WALLACE STEVENS???

From an email to a friend the morning I finished the book:

" I love that his syntax is just a little skewed so that you're knocked off balance initially, but once you get to the end of what you're reading it's a little like you've been listening to the dialect of a particular mind. I LOVE that he completely upends these sort of grand Romantic ideals of poetry (LOVE! DEATH! THE MEANING OF LIFE! THE ABSOLUTE GOODNESS OF NATURE! REVOLUTION!
...more
Teresa
May 25, 2015 Teresa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: g-poesia, n-usa
...três míseras estrelas...mas a culpa é minha...Wallace Stevens é demasiado agreste e indecifrável para mim.

Mas gosto muito deste:

"O VENTO MUDA

É assim que muda o vento:
Como os pensamentos de um velho humano,
Que pensa ainda ardentemente,
Desesperadamente.
O vento muda assim:
Como uma humana sem ilusões,
Que sente ainda coisas irracionais dentro de si.
O vento muda assim:
Como humanos chegando orgulhosamente,
Como humanos chegando irritadamente.
É assim que muda o vento:
Como um humano, pesado, pesado,
...more
David
Mar 13, 2009 David rated it it was amazing
i came across the first edition of this book with the multi-patterned boards in a library. sitting on the shelf next to criticisms. holding it and looking at the cover, it is a pastel rainbow. and turning it in your hand, to the spine with the paper label that reads harmonium makes you stop for an instant. on the word harmonium for sure. but more than that. in a stack in the library with metal shelves. the weight of the thing struck me. it was so so light. if it werent for the patterned boards a ...more
Taka
Sep 07, 2015 Taka rated it it was amazing
Impressive--

How do you write rococo poetry? How can you use abstractions and big, syllable-sucking words and make them sensual? Look no further than Stevens—he taught me how that can be done with panache.

To be honest, I was expecting more along the lines of the hyper-allusive-and-hence-elusive modernist poetry of, say, T.S. Eliot or Ezra Pound in their most fuck-the-readers moments, but I was fortunately proven wrong. Wallace Stevens writes pulsing poetry with rich abstractions, concrete imagery
...more
P
May 09, 2014 P rated it it was amazing
"... First Crispin smiled upon
His goldenest demoiselle, inhabitant,
She seemed, of a country of the capuchins,
So delicately blushed, so humbly eyed,
Attentive to a coronal of things
Secret and singular. Second, upon
A second similar counterpart, a maid
Most sisterly to the first, not yet awake
Excepting to the motherly footstep, but
Marvelling sometimes at the shaken sleep.
Then third, a thing still flaxen in the light,
A creeper under jaunty leaves. And fourth,
Mere blusteriness that gewgaws jollified,
Al
...more
Cymru Roberts
Aug 06, 2015 Cymru Roberts rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Wallace Stevens, a man whose imagination was the crux of his existence. Imagination is his gateway to the spiritual world (I hesitate to say God, cuz it aint a religious thing) and the force that ostracizes him from everyday society. How could real life compare to the imagined realm? How could one's own self ever stack up next to the imagined perfection of an angel? The main source of creative friction for Stevens is the discrepancy, in himself and the world, between reality and imagination.

Ima
...more
Peter
Jul 31, 2015 Peter rated it it was amazing
I have a question for readers of this book.

I recently bought the Library of America complete works of Wallace Stevens. In the version of "the man whose pharynx was bad" in that volume, the lines "perhaps if summer ever came to rest / lengthened, deepened, comforted, caressed / through days like oceans in obsidian horizons" are omitted.

An endnote says that these lines were included in the version of the poem published in The New Republic ten years before Harmonium, in 1921.

My question is : does
...more
Danny Daley
May 14, 2015 Danny Daley rated it liked it
A poet more for the mind than the soul. I found myself liking a minority of the poems, but the collection is so long that this still left me with a number of poems that I enjoyed a great deal.
Andrea Riley
Jul 06, 2007 Andrea Riley rated it really liked it
even though the man can create an image...he still is a racist and classist.
Darran Mclaughlin
Mar 11, 2012 Darran Mclaughlin rated it really liked it
I remember straining my brain in my American Literature class at university struggling to comprehend the meaning of Stevens poetry. I now think I might have been wasting my time because I no longer think that poetry needs to 'make sense' or have a clear and comprehensible theme. I think I may have had this revelation when I realised you don't need to understand what's going on in David Lynch's film Mullholland Drive. Wallace Stevens is a great Modernist poet. He poetry is ebuliant, sensual, inte ...more
Ryan Bollenbach
Jul 05, 2014 Ryan Bollenbach rated it it was amazing
Wallace Stevens was a literary explorer, and Harmonium, his first volume of poetry, is like taking his guided tour of the moon: Wallace Stevens marches you out of the space ship, quickly rattles off some facts about the moon, then says "that's it for the boring part, now everybody jump!"

And you do. You begin to float away. You are scared and confused. You start screaming. Wallace only laughs. Then you turn a complete 360, expecting to see vacuum of space, but you see just how huge and blue the
...more
A.E. Reiff
Anthropologies of the English.

Stevens' Collected Poems replaces the original publications. He wanted the whole to be a Harmonium like Whitman wanted his whole to be Leaves of Grass. Holding the Collected in your hand it's a little hard to swat a fly. A good comparison to the first Harmonium is Swampy Cree Tales, where Howard Norman does for the Cree what Stevens does for the Caucasoid. Who is this mysterious being, what are its underlying beliefs and folkways? You think you know but you don't. C
...more
Everett Minshall
Oct 08, 2015 Everett Minshall rated it really liked it
I took time off, from the Honorable School Boy to read some poetry by Wallace Stevens, the first being Harmonium. So far I am loving these poems, very inspiring! Definitely recommend for anyone wanting to further their love for poetry, but would not recommend for someone who hasn't read much poetry before, because the language is pretty difficult to understand. I'm reading more so don't worry.
Harper Curtis
Nov 29, 2013 Harper Curtis rated it it was amazing
Great book. Great Poet. Get the Collected Poems, where you will find all of the poems in Harmonium, and more.

That being said, many of Stevens's most famous (and best loved) poems are here in Harmonium: Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, The Snow Man, The Emperor of Ice-Cream, Sunday Morning, Anecdote of the Jar, ... and more.

Here is the eighth stanza of "Le Monocle de Mon Oncle":

Like a dull scholar, I behold, in love,
An ancient aspect touching a new mind.
It comes, it blooms, it bears its f
...more
Joseph
Feb 21, 2015 Joseph rated it liked it
Though there were a few poems that particularly struck me (e.g. "The Snow Man" and "Peter Quince at the Clavier"), mostly this collection is worth reading as a predecessor of Ashbery.
Philip
Feb 13, 2015 Philip rated it it was amazing
Will need some re-reading of selections of this collection, but some beautiful words here.
Jacob
Dec 09, 2012 Jacob rated it it was amazing
"She says, 'But in contentment I still feel / The need of some imperishable bliss.' "

I've read 'Sunday Morning' about once a month, usually on Sunday afternoons, since I first discovered it through a Library of America 'story of the week' email. I wasn't disappointed by the rest of the collection. Anecdote of the Jar and Of the Surface of Things and The Curtains in the House of the Metaphysician and Tea at the Palaz of Hoon and Peter Quince at the Clavier stood out to me as well.
Calvin
Jul 13, 2013 Calvin added it
Shelves: poetry
There was a period in the mid 90s I considered Stevens damn near a god where writing poetry was concerned-he may have been the same as an insurance executive but I really cant say.

It calls to mind the great Mark Van Doren review of the work in 1923 "entative, perverse, and superfine; and it will never be popular".

Damn good stuff if you like your poetry requiring you to work a bit.
i!
Dec 14, 2014 i! rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"13 Ways of Looking At a Blackbird" was a huge game-changer for me, as it is for everybody, evidently. I was reading some rules for submission to some publisher and it had a specific rule, 1 among maybe 5, that you couldn't write "X ways of Ying at Z". So I guess that gives some idea of how big this stuff is in an outside-the-self sense of it, as if that meant anything.
Ralph Scriabin
Jul 02, 2015 Ralph Scriabin rated it it was amazing
First book of poetry (besides maybe some Yeats and Byron) that got me into good poetry. He's not the most elegant formalist, but he's certainly the best philosopher-poet. Makes most of his contemporaries, especially TS Eliot, look like froth-mouthed children.
Gerry LaFemina
Nov 05, 2013 Gerry LaFemina rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
There's so much to appreciate about Stevens, so much beauty to these lines, so much joy and whimsy with language, yet the complicated diction, the emotional distance from the subject matter, always leaves me feeling like Stevens is cold and I prefer my poems warm.
Christine
Apr 27, 2008 Christine rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Christine by: Gram :)
This little book of poems was my best friend when i was traveling alone for a month. It talked to me and I talked to it and we shaped each other. It fell apart in the end and I then graduated to a complete works. Stevens is my favorite american poet.
Shannon
May 28, 2008 Shannon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
A necessity for anyone who calls themselves a poet.

Note to self: this collection contains a poem called "Tattoo."
Rurik Baumrin
Jun 02, 2013 Rurik Baumrin rated it it was amazing
Beautiful and mysterious collection of modern poetry. I loved this emotional and intellectual experience.
Jeff
Apr 28, 2008 Jeff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sacred, poetry
What an amazing accomplishment of a first book. Instant classic.
Jenny
Feb 06, 2013 Jenny rated it it was ok
The Snowman and Sunday Morning are the stand-outs for me.
Brad
Jan 14, 2010 Brad rated it did not like it
Should have been called Snore-onium. Hey-o!
Justin Boening
Aug 25, 2012 Justin Boening rated it it was amazing
Of course.
Eric
Jul 22, 2008 Eric marked it as to-read
yes yes yes!
Ryan
Apr 23, 2011 Ryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: great-poetry
Sublime.
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  • The Bridge
  • Spring and All
  • North of Boston
  • Houseboat Days
  • Questions of Travel
  • Personæ: The Shorter Poems
  • The End of Beauty
  • The Maximus Poems
  • The Branch Will Not Break
  • Praise
  • The Cloud Corporation
  • Sea Garden
  • Winter Stars
  • The Selected Poems
  • Cuttlefish Bones
  • Selected Poems
  • Leopardi: Selected Poems
  • The Wind Among the Reeds
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Stevens is a rare example of a poet whose main output came at a fairly advanced age. His first major publication (four poems from a sequence entitled "Phases" in the November 1914 edition of Poetry Magazine) was written at the age of thirty-five, although as an undergraduate at Harvard, Stevens had written poetry and exchanged sonnets with George Santayana, with whom he was close through much of h ...more
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“I still feel the need of some imperishable bliss.” 16 likes
“Of the Surface of Things

In my room, the world is beyond my understanding;
But when I walk I see that it consists of three or four
Hills and a cloud.”
13 likes
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