Wallace Stevens’s musicality is so profound that scholars have only begun to grasp his ties to the art of music or the music of his own poetry. In this study, two long-time specialists present a polyphonic composition in which they pursue various interlocking perspectives.
Their case studies demonstrate how music as a temporal art form may affect a poetic of ephemerality, sensuous experience, and affective intensification. Such a poetic, they argue, invites flexible interpretations that respond to poetry as an art of textual performance. How did Stevens enact the relation between music and memory?
How can we hear his verse as a form of melody-making? What was specific to his ways of recording birdsong? Have we been missing the latent music of Richard Strauss, Gustav Mahler, and Claude Debussy in particular poems? What were the musical poetics he shared with Igor Stravinsky? And how is our experience of the late poetry transformed when we listen to a musical setting by Ned Rorem? The Poetic Music of Wallace Stevens will appeal to experts in the poet’s work, students of Modernism in the arts, and a wider audience fascinated by the dynamics of exchange between music and poetry.