Winter 1957 • Vol. XIX No. 1 Nonfiction |

Wallace Stevens’ Ice-Cream

In contemplating the poetry written by executives of large insurance companies, it is hard not to be curious about their treatment of the great fact of death upon which their ample livelihood depends. Lugubrious as the subject is, it offers a way into the obliquities of Wallace Stevens. Death appears importunately several times in Stevens' first volume, Harmonium, and less frequently thereafter, but a better beginning is his early play, "Three Travellers Watch a Sunrise," because in it the principal bit of stage property is a corpse. It is the corpse of a dead lover, murdered by his girl's father; and the question in the play is how the three Chinese travellers, who have come out to watch the sunrise and not to look at corpses, will take the discovery of the body. It soon becomes apparent that they do not mind it a bit; they sympathize with the grief-stricken girl, but the corpse itself they treat as one more matter to be included in their surveyal of the scene. The sun, they say, w

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Ez and Old Billyum

By Richard Ellmann

In contemplating the poetry written by executives of large insurance companies, it is hard not to be curious about their treatment of the great fact of death upon which their […]

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