Study Guide

The Idea of Order at Key West Literature and Writing

By Wallace Stevens

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Literature and Writing

For she was the maker of the song she sang. (15)

Stevens wants us to equate "maker" with poet (the word for poet and maker are in fact the same in Greek). The word "maker" also brings to mind the idea of The Maker, as in God. Now that's some real creative power!

           It was her voice that made
The sky acutest at its vanishing. (34-35)

If she is the poet, and her "voice" made the sky "acutest at its vanishing" (i.e., sharper, more intense at the horizon), it looks like we have another instance of the writer affecting our perception of the natural world. And how about that word "voice?" Chances are that you've heard this term come up in class when discussing what makes one poet sound different from every other poet. It is the poet's unique "voice," or artistic style.

She was the single artificer of the world
In which she sang. And when she sang, the sea,
Whatever self it had, became the self
That was her song, for she was the maker (37-40)

Wait a minute, what's this "artificer" all about? This could change everything! Wait, Shmoop, don't panic. Get your trusty dictionary and check it out. Deep breaths, deep breaths… Oh. "Artificer" is just like a craftsperson or an inventor—in other words, someone who makes something. Okay, Wallace, we get it. The poet makes the world through her song (her poem).

The maker's rage to order words of the sea,
Words of the fragrant portals, dimly-starred,
And of ourselves and of our origins, (52-55)

It's hard to ignore the writing metaphor here. The "maker" is arranging words, words that describe nature and humanity, and putting them in order. That sounds kind of like writing a poem, right?

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