Mr. Longenbach argues Stevens was trying to create some sort of aesthetic of atheism, when in fact such a belief structure would have been for Stevens merely another "fiction" we use to create our sense of reality. "Bare night is best, bare earth is best, bare, bare" ("Evening without Angels") because it is only when we lose our mental constructs that we can recognize our power over so-called reality. It's a fine point lost on many commentators, but it's a shame to see Stevens reduced to spokesmodel for secular humanism when he clearly is one of the most spiritually advanced poets who ever lived. His worldview is echoed in Hafiz, Li Po, St. Therese, Blake and many other mystics, the difference being that that he did in the context of the "skeptical" modern mind, trained in a different dogmatic belief system.
William A. Sigler
Aug 31 2009 - 1:05pm