Wallace Stevens (October 2, 1879 – August 2, 1955) was an American Modernist poet. He was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, educated at Harvard and then New York Law School, and he spent most of his life working as an executive for an insurance company. His best-known poems include "Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock" and "The Snow Man."
Stevens was a devoutly religious man. He wrote poems, he said, to “find God.”
Wallace Stevens was not satisfied without experiencing something sacred. This was different from his contemporaries. Steven’s wrote about God in a secular age.
In 1936, Stevens broke his hand in Key West, Florida. He broke it punching Ernest Hemingway. One of his most well known poems is “The Idea of Order at Key West.”
Stevens is best known for four poems. “The Snow Man,” “Sunday Morning,” “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” and “The Idea of Order at Key West.”
“The Snow Man” is symbolically polarizing. A snowman in a literal sense is cold and inanimate. However, it is also sustains life because it water.
“The Snow Man” has polarized literary critics. Some say the poem is about “the plight of modern humanity” while others state it “…is a purification of consciousness of sorts.”
Stevens first became nationally published in the Harvard magazine, Trend in 1914. His contribution was Carnet de Voyage, or “travel notebook.”
Stevens was very successful academically. He made the honor roll twice in high school and attended Harvard University before dropping out, and received a law degree from New York Law School in 1901.
Stevens did not earn a living by writing poetry. He worked as a specialist in investment banking of the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company in the mid-1910s, a career path he followed throughout his life.
In 1955 Stevens was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He died in August of 1955.