The words of things entangle and confuse.
The plum survives its poems. It may hang
In the sunshine placidly, colored by ground
Obliquities of those who pass beneath,
Harlequined and mazily dewed and mauved
In bloom. Yet it survives in its own form,
Beyond these changes, good, fat, guzzly fruit.
So Crispin hasped on the surviving form,
For him, of shall or ought to be in is.
(The Comedian as the Letter C, 408-416)
Wallace Stevens was born October 2, 1879, in Reading, Pennysylvania, and was educated in classics at Reading Boys' High School and at Harvard as a special student 1897-1900. There he acted as President of the Harvard Advocate and published some verse. After several years as a reporter in New York, Stevens entered New York Law School in 1901 and eventually clerked for W. G. Peckham, a New York attorney. Stevens was admitted to the bar in 1904. In New York he worked for several law firms and then joined an insurance firm, the American Bonding Company of Baltimore, which became the Equitable Surety Company of St. Louis. Stevens and Elsie Viola Kachel married in 1909 and lived in New York until they moved to Hartford, Connecticut, in 1916. Until his retirement, he worked for the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company, moving up to Vice President in 1934. His poem "Pecksniffiana" won the Helen Haire Levinson Prize offered by Poetry in 1920. In his lifetime he brought out the following books of poetry:
Only after World War II was Stevens recognized as a major poet. His awards and honours include membership in the National Institute of Arts and Letters (1946), the Bollingen Prize for 1949, the Poetry Society of America Gold Medal (1951), the National Book Award in Poetry (1950, 1954), and the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry (1955). He read and lectured often at universities and published one book of literary criticism, The Necessary Angel: Essays on Reality and the Imagination (A. A. Knopf, November 12, 1951). Stevens died August 2, 1955, of stomach cancer, leaving one daughter, Holly Bright Stevens, who edited his letters afterwards. His wife Elsie Stevens died February 19, 1963. They are buried together at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hartford.
Given name: Wallace
Family name: Stevens
Birth date: 1879
Death date: 1955