Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Themes

You can't really talk about Wallace Stevens without talking about spirituality. Whenever the speaker of "Of Modern Poetry" says that modern poetry has to find something that's good enough ("will suffice") for modern people, he means good enough in a really deep way—as in good enough to make life seem like it's worth living, good enough to make you think the world might actually care about you. The world doesn't always make us feel that way, especially the modern world. So for Stevens, it's up to poetry to fill the void and make us feel spiritually better about our lives.

Questions About Spirituality

  1. Do you think poetry is actually capable of becoming a substitute for religion in the modern world? Can you ever see yourself turning to poetry for spiritual comfort? Why or why not? How would the speaker answer these questions?
  2. Where does this poem most strongly hint that modern poetry should offer spiritual comfort? Is it only in one place, or several? What examples from the text support your answer?
  3. Spiritually speaking, what's your idea of "good enough"? What's the speaker's idea here? What do you think every person needs to make life worth living, in a spiritual sense? Can poetry give it?

Chew on This

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

Hallelujah! For Stevens, poetry is the new religion. People can't live without a sense of meaning in the universe, and there's no way science can give it to them.

Thanks bunches, Wallace. "Of Modern Poetry" gives us an exact blueprint for how we can start to find deeper spiritual meaning in our lives.

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