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The Idea of Order at Key West

The Idea of Order at Key West

by Wallace Stevens

Spirituality Theme

While this poem isn't about religion, religious language and spirituality are definitely strong components. It's almost like Stevens wants to present art as a kind of religion. While many of you might be thinking that poetry is a close second to Sunday school on the boredom scale, that's not the relationship Stevens was getting at. He wants us to consider the power and importance of art as something wholly (holy? for sure not holey…) equal to that of religion.

Questions About Spirituality

  1. What is the difference between religion and spirituality? What aspects of the poem strike you as religious and what aspects strike you as spiritual in nature? Or, are religion and spirituality too closely related to be discussed independently?
  2. Do you think the speaker is religious, spritual, both, or neither? Why or why not?
  3. Religion can give hope and meaning to the lives of those who believe. Can art do the same thing? If so, how?
  4. What links can you make between art and spirituality-religion? Is there a place in your own life where these different elements come together? Is there a place where these elements come into conflict in your life? How so?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The poem shows us how art and religion are best buds. Throughout history, artists have been commissioned by religious leaders to create art depicting religious themes and stories. In fact, art informs our understanding of religion.

Not so fast there, Friendly McGee. Depsite what this poem suggests, art is often created in reaction to religious and political oppression. The relationship between art and religion is based on conflict.

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