Reality in Wallace Stevens’ The Man with the Blue Guitar

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Reality in Wallace Stevens’ The Man with the Blue Guitar

For Wallace Stevens, reality is an abstraction with many perspective possibilities. As a poet, Stevens struggles to create original perspectives of reality. Wallace Stevens creates a new, modern reality in his poetry. Actually, Stevens decreates reality in his poetry. In The Necessary Angel, Stevens paraphrases Simone Weil’s coinage of decreation as the change from created to uncreated or from created to nothingness. Stevens then defines modern reality as, “a reality of decreation, in which our revelations are not the revelations of belief, but the precious portents of our own powers”(750). Stevens relates, through poetry, a destruction of traditional reality leading to a realization that the meaning of a poem is not truth, always recognizing that the poem is the poets perception of reality. This perception of reality is based on experience, historical context, and poetic skill, among others. “The Man with the Blue Guitar” is a long poem that allows Stevens to change perspectives and create abstract realities. Parataxis in such a long poem allows for the decreation of reality and the relation of imagination.

In his book, The long poems of Wallace Stevens: An interpretive study, Rajeev S. Patke describes varied progression within “The Man with the Blue Guitar” as “an indefinite improvisatory series. In such a series the unitary sections lose their independent status as poems, and their masks and metaphors become stages in the continual play of metamorphosis which is the true life of Stevens’s poetry”(241). Imbedded in Patke’s description of “the true life of Stevens’s poetry”, is the parataxis that a sectioned poem provides. Each movement from section t...

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...ique and presentation of Stevens’s concepts may be confusing and/or contradicting, but the overall presentation allows for the full realization of different perceptions and their comparison and contrast all lead back to Stevens’s purpose for poetry. This purpose being to relate experience while recognizing that each experience/perception/reality/dream is unique and insightful. In a long poem with many sections, an overall theme or fiction may not be attainable or seen as contradictory. The value of this poem lies in the realization and acknowledgment of different perspectives, and the acceptance an evolving world.

Work Cited

Patke, Rajeev. The Long Poems of Wallace Stevens: An interpretive study. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985.

Stevens, Wallace. Collected Poetry and Prose. New York: Literary Classics of the United States, Inc. 1997.

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