October 2 ~  Poem Looks at the World Necessary Angel

"A poet looks at the world as a man looks at a woman." ~ Wallace Stevens

Wallace Stevens

Looking at the world with his own unique vision, Pulitzer Prize winning poet Wallace Stevens (1879-1955) was born on this day in Reading, Pennsylvania.

He attended Harvard, graduated from the New York Law School, and had a successful law and insurance career before publishing his first work in 1915.

"A poem is a meteor," he said. His goal was to use poetry to create order in a chaotic world.

With carefully chosen words and images, he compared nature and the changing seasons to the heart and soul. Often, he wrote his poems while walking.

With a writing style that combined images with abstract thoughts, truth with paradox, he published over 400 poems and 20 books of poetry, including Ideas of Order (1935), Owl's Clover (1936) and Notes Towards a Supreme Fiction (1942).

"The poem must resist the intelligence Almost successfully," he said.

Steven's unforgettable poem, The Man with the Blue Guitar (1937), was inspired by the melancholy Pablo Picasso painting: "They said, 'You have a blue guitar,/You do not play things as they are.'/The man replied, 'Things as they are/ Are changed upon the blue guitar.'"

With poetry that celebrated Modernism, he received the prestigious Bollingen Prize in 1950, then won the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize in 1955.

With the vision of poetry as "a new knowledge of reality," Wallace explained: "You must love the words, the ideas and images and rhythms with all your capacity to love anything at all."

Look long and hard at life.