A Short Analysis of Wallace Stevens’s ‘Anecdote of the Jar’

A critical reading of an enigmatic poem

How can one even attempt to offer an analysis of ‘Anecdote of the Jar’, one of the most baffling and elusive short poems of the twentieth century? Wallace Stevens (1879-1955) wrote ‘Anecdote of the Jar’ in 1918 and it was published a year later; this makes it in the public domain, so we have cited the poem below. What is the meaning of Stevens’s poem? Difficult poems call for at least a stab at trying to unpick their ambiguities and determine their meaning, and we think ‘Anecdote of the Jar’ no different. So let’s roll our sleeves up and attempt a little analysis of this – one of Wallace Stevens’s best-known poems.

Anecdote of the Jar

I placed a jar in Tennessee,
And round it was, upon a hill.
It made the slovenly wilderness
Surround that hill. Read the rest of this entry

The Best Poetry Anthologies Every Poetry Fan Should Own

Five of the best collections of English poetry

What are the best English poetry anthologies? And how would one define ‘best’? The answer, of course, is that it’s always going to be subjective to a point. But it’s worth having a go at picking the greatest anthologies from which the poetry fan can choose. The poetry anthology is a great way not only of revisiting old favourites, but of discovering new poets. In this post, we’ve turned our attention to a kind of book that provides a highly valuable service for the poetry-lover. Many of these books can be purchased for the equivalent of the cost of lunch (depending on where you lunch, of course), or, at most, set back the book-buyer no more than a night out in the local pub would. And a volume of poetry can provide a lifetime of pleasure!

The Oxford Book of English Verse. Edited by Christopher Ricks, this anthology is, in our opinion, simply the best one out there. It’s beautifully produced on good-quality paper, presented in clear type, and the selections made by Ricks showcase, not necessarily the most famous poems by a particular poet, but the most moving, thought-provoking, and intriguing. Thus The Oxford Book of English Verse does what a good poetry anthology should do: Read the rest of this entry

A Short Analysis of Emma Lazarus’ ‘The New Colossus’

A summary of a classic American poem

Emma Lazarus is most famous for writing this one poem, ‘The New Colossus’, which adorns the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Written in 1883, the poem helped to shape the popular idea of the Statue of Liberty as a welcoming mother, and of America as the great nation of immigrants. This view was helped by the fact that the Statue was the first great US landmark that immigrants arriving in the United States would see. Here is ‘The New Colossus’, along with some words of analysis.

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. Read the rest of this entry

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