Sunday Morning Essay

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In the following essay excerpt, Stern examines the "two conceptions of life" present in "Sunday Morning."

We have already observed that for Stevens the poetic pursuit of pleasure was among the most ur- gent tasks in which a twentieth-century poet could engage. The poetic enactment of pleasure is, after all, equivalent to what Irving Howe has properly argued to be the main concern of Stevens' poetry: "discovering and . . . enacting the possibilities for human self-renewal in an impersonal and recalcitrant age." This enactment, as we have seen in our examination of "Peter Quince at the Clavier," requires that we maintain our capacity for imaginative, even amatory, response to physical beauty, and from it learn modes of subjective experience worthy of mirroring the external world that feeds the spirit. Stevens' boldest and most famous attempt to embody this process is "Sunday Morning," a poem in which the natural beauty earlier...

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This section contains 5,019 words
(approx. 13 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Sunday Morning Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
Sunday Morning from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.