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The Collected Poems

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  10,673 ratings  ·  158 reviews
This definitive poetry collection, originally published in 1954 to honor Stevens on his 75th birthday, contains:

- "Harmonium"
- "Ideas of Order"
- "The Man With the Blue Guitar"
- "Parts of the World"
- "Transport Summer"
- "The Auroras of Autumn"
- "The Rock"
Paperback, 560 pages
Published February 19th 1990 by Vintage (first published 1954)
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Sarah Etter
May 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
i fell in love with two men in my undergrad senior seminar. it was on wallace stevens and t.s. eliot.

the way i loved both of these writers hurt. (i'll set eliot aside for another time).

stevens kills me when he uses very innocent symbols - making ice cream, in "the emperor of ice cream", for instance - to offset the tragedy that's occurring. front-loaded with the promise of the sugar stuff, it seems like the poem will go somewhere happy, maybe to a coming of age resolultion.

but it's not that
David M
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In my life no poet has meant more to me than Wallace Stevens. It took years of blinking incomprehension before I really found an entry point (actually, I highly recommend the wikipedia page for Harmonium, a great introduction). He doesn't make things too easy, and yet once he opens up to you you can practically make your home inside his oeuvre. An immensely generous poet, Stevens teaches you how to be alone, a lesson it's necessary to learn and re-learn your whole life.

From "Notes Towards a
Oct 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pulitzer-poetry
The Collected Poems by Wallace Stevens

This comprehensive collection of more than three hundred poems won Stevens the National Book Award for Poetry in 1955. He also won the Pulitzer and was a widely respected poet.

Stevens is considered a master of the blank verse. Nearly all of his poems have consistent meter but lack obvious rhyme schemes.

To read Stevens poetry out loud is music, it is astonishing how beautiful his meter sounds.

Of course figuring out what Stevens is actually saying can be an
Mar 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Autumn Refrain

The skreak and skritter of evening gone
And grackles gone and sorrows of the sun,
The sorrows of sun, too, gone . . . the moon and moon,
The yellow moon of words about the nightingale
In measureless measures, not a bird for me
But the name of a bird and the name of a nameless air
I have never -- shall never hear. And yet beneath
The stillness of everything gone, and being still,
Being and sitting still, something resides,
Some skreaking and skrittering residuum,
And grates these evasions of
Apr 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
For Easter. A friend told me this is maybe the best poem in the English language, quoting bits of it as we were driving along. Had to look it up. Here it is.

Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)
Sunday Morning


Complacencies of the peignoir, and late
Coffee and oranges in a sunny chair,
And the green freedom of a cockatoo
Upon a rug mingle to dissipate
The holy hush of ancient sacrifice.
She dreams a little, and she feels the dark
Encroachment of that old catastrophe,
As a calm darkens among water-lights.
Abbi Dion
all night. once. i stayed up and read this book cover to cover. looking for a poem i thought i remembered about dancing.
Mar 26, 2008 is currently reading it
I don't know how to rate this, or how to review it. It's like TS Eliot. 8 poems out of 10 either make me feel stupid or make me hate poetry. The other 2 knock me flat on my back.
Katherine (
This is the type of book I read at 3 am when I can't sleep. Stevens' poetry just makes me feel so calm, even though the content in his poetry is not in fact anywhere near the realms of calm. Overall, I would say, the content is hard-hitting. I'm not going to pretend I understand all of his ideas and everything he says- I definitely don't. A lot of these poems leave me feeling like an idiot. But when I am able to figure something out, it all starts to click and I am left with a lump in my throat. ...more
Jun 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book of poetry combines an earthy sensibility coupled with a philosophical speculation that appeals to me. My favorite book of poetry.
Joseph Shuffield
May 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Stevens wrote poetry like a jeweler cuts diamonds; his language is musical to the ear and prismatic in the mind's eye. He often writes about the power of art--specifically poetry--to transform Reality.

She sang beyond the genius of the sea . . .

It was her voice that made
The sky acutest at its vanishing.....

She was the single artificer of the world
In which she sang. And when she sang, the sea,
Whatever self it had, became the self
That was her song, for she was the maker. Then we,
As we beheld
Nov 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-school
very fond of the harmonium and ideas of order collections.

some particular favorites:
"another weeping woman"
"from the misery of don joost"
"the worms at heaven's gate"
"anecdote of men by the thousand"
"of the surface of things"
"the place of the solitaires"
"the curtains in the house of the metaphysician"
"six significant landscapes"
"the wind shifts"
"farewell to florida"
"the idea of order at key west"
"anglais mort à florence"
Simon Robs
Sep 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From pt. V of his poem "Things of August" -

'The thinker as reader reads what has been written.
He wears the words he reads to look upon
Within his being,

A crown within him of crispest diamonds.
A reddened garment falling to his feet,
A hand of light to turn the page,

A finger with a ring to guide his eye
From line to line, as we lie on the grass and listen
To that which has no speech,

The voluble intentions of the symbols,
The ghostly celebrations of the picnic,
The secretions of insight.
Jan 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Another wonderful, mostly opaque, poet. But I thoroughly enjoyed what I could understand. Stevens has a very strong philosophical bent, and his overtly humanistic stance celebrates in such bold and beautiful language the gift that every moment of life is with or without an eternal assurance. He wrote in his book Opus Posthumous, “After one has abandoned a belief in God, poetry is that essence which takes its place as life’s redemption." Many people with religious sensibilities may wonder how one ...more
Jeff Crompton
Aug 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I'm marking this book as "read," although I'm not sure I've read every poem. This is certainly not a book which can be read cover-to-cover in a few sittings, at least not by someone of my intellect.

I fell in love with Stevens' famous "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" during my freshman year in college. The images were striking and beautiful, even though I didn't understand what the poem was about. But the mystery was part of the appeal. I "understand" the poem more now, but there will
Jul 31, 2008 added it
When I'm feeling uninspired, I reach for this book. "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" is likely the best known poem, but there are many to love here. A beautiful collection.
reading woman
Jul 06, 2009 marked it as to-read
Shelves: poésie-prose
Yes, Stevens' poetry needs savoring...absolutely!
Jul 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"He wanted his heart to stop beating
And his mind to rest in a permanent realization"

I feel that as a poet Stevens always seems to be speaking directly to you. I've rarely encountered the first-person voice in his work. It's as though he has devised these poems from a place of deepest and most personal significance, and they are completed now for none other than you. His poetic voice declares and justifies its own authority -- the language is crafted beautifully and inventively in such masterful
Oct 17, 2009 marked it as to-read
i have a couple of his poems on my wall in my art studio.
great poet

i mean to buy a good edition of his poetry and have not had a chance to investigate which anthology to get? any suggestions? which is the best to get?

here is a taste: my favorite Wallace poem:

The Idea of Order at Key West

Wallace Stevens

She sang beyond the genius of the sea.
The water never formed to mind or voice,
Like a body wholly body, fluttering
Its empty sleeves; and yet its mimic motion
Made constant cry, caused constantly a
Yasiru (reviews will soon be removed and linked to blog)
Wallace Stevens is a fascinating poet, an aesthete whose concern is the complex, ever unravelling relation between the world and consciousness. His work evokes something of Lucretius, as well as the Romantics, but it's framed in terms of the Modernist quest, part response, part direction.

For Stevens, experiences are not encapsulated by snapshot instances, or at least, such instances are not in any form-perfect way reducible to language, whether in the moment or through later reminiscence.
May 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been trying for years to get into Stevens. Finally did and he is well worth the effort. If you have tried and "put it back on the shelf" as I did, read his small book of essays "The Necessary Angel" and Helen Vendler's "Words Chosen Out of Desire". They helped me see what he was all about.

Wallace Stevens, "The Man with the Blue Guitar" (excerpts)


The man bent over his guitar,
A shearsman of sorts. The day was green.

They said, "You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they
Jul 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Wallace Steven is probably my favorite modern poet. His imagery, style, subject matter all catch me off guard, and that's something a good poet should do. One poem to share would be "The Snow Man".

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow,

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a
Jul 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Superb poetry from an extremely unlikely source. I think I read this after it was mentioned in Ken Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion.

This book deserves a finer commentary when I have time to consider at the moment, but I was astounded by the impression which he made on my first reading: it was simply like another world had opened up before me... and the one in which I had been living became a mere shell of reality. It was one of those fearful moments when you cannot be sure that your entire
Jan 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I am re-reading this now. It's a bit wordy, but full of an elegant, Godly style.
In the reading, I am among Greeks -- gods and ephebes --, strange flowers, outdated seraphs, the vulgate, Ozymandias, and constantly, the Poet struggling between two states to find a "Supreme Fiction."

Maybe it should be four stars?? No. There's too much in here.
Nov 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry-authors
This is one of the greatest books of all time. Five stars does not do it justice. I'll always be trying to understand all of them.
Apr 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I understand more each time I read these poems.
Jul 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Wallace Stevens. Read him. Now.
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As always with Wallace Stevens, poems to savor and enjoy over a lifetime. It's impossible to say I have "read" the poems, as in completed this edition; rather, it is poems to be read over and over for their vivid language and unique beauty.

I prefer his shorter poems and find most of my favorites in his first book, Harmonium. For his longer and later poems, it is "authentic difficulty" as Harold Bloom would say.

In all, his poems are like strolling through a museum rich in impressionistic
Stevens can write well about the imagination. Equally, his preoccupation with it can seem like a solipsistic aestheticism.
Martin Bihl
First, about the volume. at over 500 pages, this feels like it must be a fairly comprehensive overview of Stevens' work. All of the famous poems are here, and, for reasons I don't understand, some minor poems are omitted. So if you are new to Stevens or looking for an introduction to him, this is a good place to start.

That said, there are no notes whatsoever, not even an introduction to give Stevens' work some context. That seems a regrettable oversight.

Now to the poems. I love the language. I
Jan 30, 2011 rated it it was ok
I was not familiar with Stevens work until reading Harold Bloom's discussion and presentation of some of his poems in Bloom's anthology of the best English language poems. I loved what I read there and quickly put Stevens on my list. Every time I was in a used bookstore, I looked for a collection of his works until I found one.

So, this has been my morning poetry reading for a year and a half as I worked my way through the thick volume of his collected works. And I didn't love them. Occasionally
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Wallace 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 ...more
“The only emperor is the emperor of ice cream.” 108 likes
“The poem must resist the intelligence
Almost successfully.”
More quotes…