Lines from Wallace Stevens Poems That Should Stand Alone


I have been reading a ton of Wallace Stevens poetry for a class lately, and I have found a bunch of lines in his poetry that really should stand on their own! They are better independent of their poem’s context in my opinion.


“The world is ugly and the people are sad.” Gubbinal


Not very optimistic, but quite the statement! The point in the poem is that life is what you see it as, but on it’s own it’s a little sassy! It definitely works better standing alone.


“Why should she give her bounty to the dead?” Sunday Morning


The actual poem is about a woman wrestling with religion. She is home on a Sunday morning rather than in church. However, on its own it’s pretty empowering! Don’t give your bounty to the dead, keep that for yourself!


“The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream” The Emperor Of Ice-Cream


This is a meaningful poem, and it’s been called one of Wallace Stevens best poems ever. It isn’t actually about ice-cream, but it should be! That’s why I’ve pulled this line out and put it on its own.


“Twenty men crossing a bridge, into a village, are twenty men crossing twenty bridges, into twenty villages, or one man crossing a single bridge into a village” Metaphors Of A Magnifico


Is there one bridge or twenty bridges? Either could be right!


“If sex were all, then every trembling hand could make us squeak, like dolls, the wished-for words.” Le Monocle De Mon Oncle


Sex isn’t everything! This whole poem is very weird. It’s about Wallace Stevens and his weird relationships, but this line on its own is perfection!


“Her terrace was the sand and the palms and the twilight.” Infanta Marina


If you read any of these poems in full, make it this one. Read it out loud too! The sounds are beautiful, and you will find yourself swaying as if you were in the ocean being lulled by the waves. Who doesn’t love a princess of the sea? In and out of the poem, this is a lovely line.


“I shall whisper heavenly labials in a world of gutturals” The Plot Against The Giant


On the surface this poem is about women undoing a giant. Of course the women are metaphors, but I like the seduction that happens without looking too deep into it. This works well on its own because it’s the most sensual line in my humble opinion.


Follow Her Campus @ Geneseo on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest