The Idea of Order is Key

Wallace Stevens

Wallace Stevens is probably my favorite English language poet. His elegance, eloquence, and wordsmithiness shine above all others for me. He had wit and whimsy, along with a deep sadness and melancholy coursing through his poetry. A sometimes strange combination that worked, that merged sound and sense better than any other poet in English — to my mind.

The Magritte of poets, Stevens worked for an insurance company, the Hartford, rising eventually to VP. Most, if not all of his coworkers, knew nothing of his genius for poetry until after his death.


Helen Vendler discusses Stevens here, with an intro about the (treasure trove) 92Y series beforehand. A recording from 1951 is presented below.

[Updated in 2022 to correct for lost audio]:

This is a lecture by Vendler from the Stanford Humanities Center:

The Idea of Order is Key
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