“Death is the mother of Beauty; hence from her,
Alone, shall come fulfillment to our dreams
And our desires”

Wallace Stevens

Poems of Wallace Stevens


Sunday Morning

November 1915

The poem, “Sunday Morning” is an attempt to reconcile humankind’s position in the universe as both a spiritual and earthly manifestation with a not-so-obvious meaning. Stevens seeks this "reconciliation" while at the same time casting off the tattered cloak of ecclesiastical dogma that has for so long controlled and constrained the imaginative and ephemeral side of humanity that is the soul.

See for example the lines: "silent Palestine,
Dominion of the blood and sepulchre."

He portrays our shared dilemma of a post clerical or a secular human condition. Stevens initiates the portrayal of this dilemma through the whimsical spiritual musings of a woman at leisure in the late morning sun. Of course Sunday, the Christian sabbath for most of American history, is by 1920 a forgotten observance among an entire class of the nation's educated elites.

The first stanza of “Sunday Morning” is rich with imagery that depicts the setting of the poem. Descriptive words and phrases such as “complacencies”, “late Coffee”, “sunny”, “holy hush” and “green freedom” evoke an overall sensation of contentment and peace while at the same time fostering a calm and gentle surrounding in the mind of the reader."


Compare to Bryant's Thanatopsis