Stevens, Wallace (1879–1955) By MacPhail, Kelly
Wallace Stevens is recognized as one of America’s greatest modernist poets, yet he was not widely celebrated for his poetry until the last years of his life in the early 1950s. Stevens was a private man who was in many ways quite different from his poetic contemporaries and the other great American modernist writers. His unusual trajectory as a poet was circumscribed by the relatively late age at which he began to publish, by his lack of foreign travel, by an at times unhappy marriage, and by his consuming work as an insurance lawyer and vice-president at the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company. Nonetheless, Stevens’s poetic world was immense, and his verse exhibits his preoccupations with the nature of poetry itself and with the complex relationship of the mind, the imagination, and reality. Stevens published his Collected Poems in 1954 at the age of seventy-five to great acclaim and died the following year of stomach cancer.