Wallace Stevens' Poetics by Angus J. Cleghorn
The Neglected Rhetoric

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Stevens’ poetry undermines the safeguarded classifications people use to contain knowledge. Political labels were prominent in 1930s America, when Marxism led many writers to prioritize politics over aesthetics. Stevens’ poetry employs rhetoric to show that art and state function through similar appeals, and that these forms of persuasion govern history. The long poem, “Owl’s Clover,” responds to Depression ideologies by dramatizing the nominal barriers people construct to stem their fears. This study also responds to critical misapprehension about “Owl’s Clover,” and argues that the poem’s rhetorical poetics are crucial to understanding Stevens’ complete poetry as an ethical challenge to the destructive and rigidly repetitive routes of history.

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Published December 1, 2000 by Palgrave Macmillan. 256 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction