Essay

From the Archive: Vol. V No. II


New York City,
6 November 1914
Dear Miss Monroe:
     My biography is, necessarily, very brief; for I have published nothing. I am grateful to you for your notes and, of course, for the check.
          Very truly yours, / Wallace Stevens


Seeking some response to what she called "the supreme crisis of the twentieth century," Harriet Monroe finalized the November 1914 issue of Poetry days after the Allies first shot down a German plane. As she browsed the unsolicited manuscripts just before the issue was to go to press, Monroe made the most influential discovery of her career.

Immediately, she re-assembled the number to "squeeze in" a group of short poems by an unknown poet named Wallace Stevens. His "Phases" exists here alongside Carl Sandburg and Amy Lowell's war poems as the inauguration of a famous relationship with both Poetry and Monroe. For the Editor, however, Stevens's emergence as a necessary Modern could not have come at a more crucial time, when what the American people needed most was "not a justification of the ways of man to God, but a justification of the ways of man to man."

Featured Poems
Phases
by Wallace Stevens (November 1914)

Cold Calls: War Music, Continued
by Christopher Logue (June 2004)

Essays from Poetry
Poems, Bombs, and the Road to Baghdad
by Matthew Doherty (December 2004)

Sarajevo Blues
by Aleksandar Hemon (April 2005)

Romance and Reality
by Lt. Gen. William James Lennox, Jr. (April 2005)

Like Soldiers Marching
by Rachel Cohen (January 2005)

How With This Rage
by Chris Hedges (January 2005)
Originally Published: March 1, 2006

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