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The Idea of Order at Key West

The Idea of Order at Key West

by Wallace Stevens

Art and Culture Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

But it was she and not the sea we heard. (19)

The noisy old sea was right there, doing all its sea stuff, but all the speaker could hear was her song. The song drowned out the sea. That art is powerful, powerful stuff.

Quote #2

She was the single artificer of the world
In which she sang. And when she sang, the sea,
Whatever self it had, became the self
That was her song (37-40)

Boy, that must have been some song. Here again, the artist and the art have the power. In these lines, art is not just changing perception, it is crafting or inventing the world around the singer and the speaker.

Quote #3

[…] tell me, if you know,
Why, when the singing ended and we turned
Toward the town, tell why the glassy lights […]
Mastered the night and portioned out the sea,
Fixing emblazoned zones and fiery poles,
Arranging, deepening, enchanting night. (44-51)

Oo! Oo! We know! Call on us! Even though the song has stopped, the effects linger. The art has changed the speaker's perception of the place. The randomness of the natural world has been replaced by "portion[s]" and "zones." The natural world has been "arrang[ed]."

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