Wallace Stevens' "Earthy anecdote": or, How poetry must resist ecocriticism almost successfullyWallace Stevens' "Earthy anecdote": or, How poetry must resist ecocriticism almost successfully
Faculty of Arts. Linguistics and Literature
Literature and Modernity
2009Thousand Oaks, Calif., 2009
Comparative American studies : an international journal. - Thousand Oaks, Calif.
7(2009):1, p. 173-192
University of Antwerp
This essay reconsiders the proto-ecological qualities of Wallace Stevens' poetry through a detailed reading of 'Earthy Anecdote', the little riddle poem that opens the writer's first volume, Harmonium. It argues that the poem fulfils a variety of purposes that cannot be all contained by an ecocritical reading: while it may certainly be understood as reflecting Stevens' investment in earth's natural cycles and its unspoiled natural environments, or as an affirmation of natural vitality rooted in the body and the senses, it is also about a poet in the act of finding a simultaneously local and international voice in modern art, about that poet's exploration of questions of image making or his confrontation with the epistemological and signifying limits of poetry, and about his attempts at reinventing the genre of the lyric.