Read The Palm at the End of the Mind: Selected Poems and a Play by Wallace Stevens Free Online
Book Title: The Palm at the End of the Mind: Selected Poems and a Play|
The author of the book: Wallace Stevens
Date of issue: May 4th 2011
ISBN 13: 9780307791856
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Reader ratings: 4.5
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 35.92 MB
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As a phrase and idea, "the palm at the end of the mind" serves well in illustrating the distinctive elegance of Wallace Stevens' poetry. He had a way of boosting odd notions into the aesthetic stratosphere; appealing enigmas were his forte. What palm and why at the end of the mind and how did it get there?
Stevens' unhurried, meditative, low-key poetic style is, it seems to me, the real pleasure and essence of his achievements. In a way, he wrote the same poem over and over again, but each time the poem has a distinctive way of asserting itself.
Stevens' core idea was that the poet does more than endow reality with meaning; he makes reality; his focal plane is that verbal space between things and perception; and that is where words give us experience.
As important as recurrent images, certain words are talismanic in Stevens' work. Combined, images and words elicit a kind of emotional frisson that goes beyond the rational into the obscurely gratifying.
In fashioning his longer poems, Stevens often seems to know what he is doing without letting the reader in on the secret. He manages non sequiturs with the persistent grace of his tonality and tosses off impenetrable tropes with insouciant carelessness.
The question does come up, again and again: What does Stevens mean, if anything, by palms at the end of the mind and blue guitars and ordinary evenings in New Haven and Comedians as the Letter C and Supreme Fictions and Ideas of Order at Key West? Each turn of phrase and image comes back to that single point: if there is order or a comedian or a palm anywhere, it is because the poet (or the devout reader) put it there. God having decamped, man must take over.
Certain poets, perhaps many poets, deserve leeway when it comes to explaining themselves. The being of the poem is the meaning of the poem. That which is not exquisitely forged lacks lasting being. Front to back, that's the point and experience of this volume.
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Read information about the authorStevens 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 his life. Many of his canonical works were written well after he turned fifty. According to the literary critic Harold Bloom, who called Stevens the "best and most representative" American poet of the time, no Western writer since Sophocles has had such a late flowering of artistic genius.
Stevens attended Harvard as a non-degree special student, after which he moved to New York City and briefly worked as a journalist. He then attended New York Law School, graduating in 1903. On a trip back to Reading in 1904 Stevens met Elsie Viola Kachel; after a long courtship, he married her in 1909. In 1913, the young couple rented a New York City apartment from sculptor Adolph A. Weinman, who made a bust of Elsie.
A daughter, Holly, was born in 1924. She later edited her father's letters and a collection of his poems.
After working for several New York law firms from 1904 to 1907, he was hired on January 13, 1908 as a lawyer for the American Bonding Company. By 1914 he had become the vice-president of the New York Office of the Equitable Surety Company of St. Louis, Missouri. When this job was abolished as a result of mergers in 1916, he joined the home office of Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company and left New York City to live in Hartford, where he would remain the rest of his life.