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Of Modern Poetry

Of Modern Poetry


by Wallace Stevens

Of Modern Poetry Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. In your own words, explain what Stevens means when he describes the "actor" of modern poetry as a "metaphysician in the dark." What key words and phrases from the poem might support your answer? 
  2. For Stevens, why does modern poetry have to tell the listener "Exactly, that which it wants to hear"? Does this mean that poetry shouldn't challenge its readers? Why or why not?
  3. What are some of the examples Stevens offers us for images or experiences that might give us satisfaction? What are some that would work for you?
  4. Do you think that poetry can be relevant again if it tries harder to learn the language of everyday people? Or is it just too late for poetry to be popular again?
  5. What do you think Stevens means in line 5, where he writes "Then the theatre was changed"? What's the theatre? Why did it change?
  6. In what way (or ways) are the first two lines of "Of Modern Poetry" like a thesis statement for the whole thing ("The poem of the mind in the act of finding/ What will suffice")?

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