Thursday, September 19, 2013

Library of America Story of the Week Read-Along 149: Wallace Stevens, Sunday Morning (#73)

Wallace Stevens, "Sunday Morning" (1923) from American Religious Poems: An Anthology by Harold Bloom:

Where did poetry go wrong? I know that's, for all intents, a trollish thing to say, both in the old sense--monstrous, savage, uncouth, troglodytic--and in the new--contrary, bellicose. But the LoA page notes that this is one of Wallace Stevens's best; and not only does it leave me cold, it leaves me stretching my imagination to picture a time when poetry was a public endeavor; when metrics and scansion ruled stage performances; when more than an elite of highly educated and otherwise employed people were interested in poetry. Sure, we can take one route--the one more traveled--and blame the masses with their taste for sensation and blah blah blah. But reading Stevens's take on a Sunday morning meditation on holiness, I find nothing to excite, interest, or enamor me. No beautiful language, no playful moments. Just sentences rolling on from a bloodless thought on a bloodless Crucifixion to the ambiguous movements of nature. Echo, echo, echo.

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