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Study Questions

Sunday Morning Questions

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

  1. Does the poem present a fair representation of Christian beliefs about heaven and the afterlife? How might a religious person respond to the poet?
  2. Stevens describes the poem as "simply an expression of paganism" (Stevens, Holly. Letters of Wallace Stevens. 1966: University of California Press. Pg. 290). Do you agree with him?
  3. The poem seems to suggest that the myths and religions of the world are products of the human imagination. What are the consequences of this view? Do you agree or disagree?
  4. Can you imagine a place without death or change? Do you agree with the poet that it would be a sad place? Is there any way to describe the afterlife without making comparisons to Earth?
  5. The poem includes several images of exotic and majestic birds. Why does Stevens end the poem with the image of common pigeons? What do you make of this ending? Is it happy or sad?

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