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A beautiful new edition—the first in nearly twenty years—of the work of Wallace Stevens, a founding father of contemporary American poetry, with a dazzling range of work that is at once emotional and intellectual. As John N. Serio reminds us in his elegant introduction, Stevens has written more persuasively than any other poet about the significance of poetry itself in everyday life: “The imagination—frequently synonymous with the act of the mind, or poetry, for Stevens—is what gives life its savor, its sanction, its sacred quality.”
This rich and thorough selection—published in the 130th anniversary year of Stevens’s birth—carries us from the explosion of Harmonium in 1923 to the maturity of The Auroras of Autumn in 1950 and the magisterial Collected Poems published by Knopf in 1954. To be drawn in once more by “The Emperor of Ice-Cream,” “Sunday Morning,” “The Idea of Order at Key West,” “Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction,” to name only a few, is to experience again the mystery of a poet who calls us to a higher music and to a deeper understanding of our vast and inarticulate interior world.
This essential volume for all readers of poetry reminds us of Stevens’s nearly unparalleled contribution to the art form and his unending ability to puzzle, fascinate, and delight us.
“[W]e have long needed, and now possess, through the unerring taste of John N. Serio—editor of The Wallace Stevens Journal and ‘The Cambridge Companion to Wallace Stevens’– a genuine Selected Poems. . . . Serio, with distinct courage, has chosen to include most of Stevens’s major sequences, declaring, by this act, that Stevens would not be Stevens without them. . . . John Serio’s winning introduction and informative chronology open up these poems, with their human eloquence, to a generation born a hundred years after Stevens.” —Helen Vendler, New York Times Book Review
“The Selected Poems is the volume that will introduce Stevens’s work to a new generation of readers. It will also remind veteran readers how great poetry can literally help us to live our lives. This is no museum or monument. We find in these pages what Stevens called the ‘bread of faithful speech,’ presented in a way that draws us irresistibly, gratefully, to the table.” —Milton Bates
“For many, Wallace Stevens is the greatest American poet of the twentieth century. No matter how many theoretical and critical interpretations of Stevens's writing there are, in the end it comes down to the inexplicable intricacies and ecstasies of form these poems of exemplary intellectual integrity provide. This meticulously edited Selection by renowned scholar John Serio presents Stevens's poetry with a space and clarity that other editions have not offered.” —Susan Howe