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Quotations From WALLACE STEVENS


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  • Style is not something applied. It is something that permeates. It is of the nature of that in which it is found, whether the poem, the manner of a god, the bearing of a man. It is not a dress.
    Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), U.S. poet. (Originally published 1951). Opus Posthumous, "Two or Three Ideas," (1959).

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  • Yet there is no spring in Florida, neither in boskage perdu, nor on the nunnery beaches.
    Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), U.S. poet. "Indian River."

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  • Most modern reproducers of life, even including the camera, really repudiate it. We gulp down evil, choke at good.
    Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), U.S. poet. Opus Posthumous, "Adagia," (1959).

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  • New York is a field of tireless and antagonistic interests—undoubtedly fascinating but horribly unreal. Everybody is looking at everybody else—a foolish crowd walking on mirrors.
    Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), U.S. poet. Souvenirs and Prophecies: The Young Wallace Stevens, ch. 4, entry for June 15, 1900, ed. Holly Stevens (1977).
  • How has the human spirit ever survived the terrific literature with which it has had to contend?
    Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), U.S. poet. "Adagia," Opus Posthumous (1959).
  • Everything is complicated; if that were not so, life and poetry and everything else would be a bore.
    Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), U.S. poet. letter, Dec. 19, 1935. Letters of Wallace Stevens, no. 336, ed. Holly Stevens (1967).

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  • Democritus plucked his eye out because he could not look at a woman without thinking of her as a woman. If he had read a few of our novels, he would have torn himself to pieces.
    Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), U.S. poet. Lecture first published (1942). "The Noble Rider and the Sound of Words," The Necessary Angel (1951).

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  • All the great things have been denied and we live in an intricacy of new and local mythologies, political, economic, poetic, which are asserted with an ever-enlarging incoherence.
    Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), U.S. poet. "The Noble Rider and the Sound of Words," The Necessary Angel (1942, repr. 1951).
  • The philosopher proves that the philosopher exists. The poet merely enjoys existence.
    Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), U.S. poet. (Originally published 1944). "The Figure of the Youth as Virile Poet," lecture, Aug. 1943, The Necessary Angel (1951).
  • The squirming facts exceed the squamous mind, If one may say so.
    Wallace Stevens 1879-1955, U.S. poet. "Connoisseur of Chaos," Parts of a World (1942).
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