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Themes

Where there's lack of spiritual fulfillment, you're almost always going to find dissatisfaction. After all, why would Stevens write a poem about finding what's "good enough" in life if there wasn't some sort of dissatisfaction underlying it? In short, the dissatisfaction Stevens talks about in "Of Modern Poetry" is the dissatisfaction of modern life in general. There seems to always be a war going on, global poverty is at an all-time high, and the planet is melting. It's these kinds of concerns that should make us turn to poetry to find some sort of hope in what we're experiencing.

Questions About Dissatisfaction

  1. What kind of dissatisfaction do you think might drive people to start reading poetry today? Does poetry still have the power to take away our dissatisfaction? Did it ever? How would the speaker answer these questions? 
  2. In your opinion, what could poetry do to be more satisfying? What would the speaker recommend? 
  3. Where does this poem seem to be most dissatisfied? How do you know?

Chew on This

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

Deep down, our man Wallace Stevens is a very dissatisfied poet who wants poetry to make everything better for him.

In "Of Modern Poetry," Wallace Stevens suggests that the work of poetry is never finished (like, ever), which means there must always be some sort of dissatisfaction driving people to write it.

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