Wallace Stevens is a poet for lovers of beauty among ruins. For those of us in the second half of life he is of unique importance: diligent insurance executive, sometimes benighted husband, and much deferred, superbly deferred poet. He first read his poetry aloud to an audience, with some awkwardness in 1938 at the age of 58. His “Man with the blue guitar” – thins as they are are changed on the blue guitar – broke his chains. As Harold Bloom wrote, “the poet who had written The Man with the Blue Guitar had weathered his long crisis, and at fifty-eight was ready to begin again.” He is the model of not asking permission from the world or critics or publishers or any circle of arts practitioners to make things of beauty, fully ripened by the the complex subtleties of a mind of winter. So, we know there never was a world for him except that he sang and in singing made. So we sit and imagine our own interior paramour, for whom we light a lamp, and for small reason think the world imagined is the greatest good.
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